Alan Kendall has sung lead/baritone for several groups over the past few years including the Melody Boys Quartet, Freedom Quartet, and the Rebels. He currently sings with Jordan’s Bridge in addition to performing solo events. On Ease On Down The Road, producer Corey Pearson and bass singer Pat Barker lend their voices to flesh out a male quartet on several choruses.
Ease On Down The Road kicks off with “Satisfied,” which is the Martha Carson song, not the traditional hymn or the Monty Matthews tune. Kyla Rowland’s “Where Is God” was popularized by Gold City on their Pillars Of Faith CD in 1992. Kendall delivers both of these classic songs with clear and confident tones and sets the mood for the rest of the CD.
There’s at least one song on this CD you probably haven’t already heard. Before recording the next song, Kendall wrote it. “The Sun Will Shine Again” sounds right at home with the rest of the songs on Ease On Down The Road.
A couple of years ago, attendees at the Grand Ole Gospel Reunion were introduced to Marvin Williams. Kendall was impressed enough to record one of Williams’ songs, “Too Much Complaining.” Although Kendall doesn’t quite take it to the same level that Williams routinely reaches, it’s a strong and convincing rendition.
By far, the most unexpected turn is “First Day In Heaven.” It’s the same song you all know and love, but Kendall has syncopated the melody and set it over a jazz foundation. Children Of The Promise are featured on a verse doing their best impression of the Andrews Sisters, then they trade lines with Kendall for the rest of the song. There’s a classy piano solo followed by an equally entertaining guitar solo. This is good stuff!
“The King We Need” is a somewhat predictable ballad with an ending that stretches on for a little longer than necessary. “That’s Enough” was one of Jake Hess’ signature songs, and Kendall does a serviceable job delivering it in a similar manner. “Ease On Down” is not a gospel song per se, but it doesn’t feel out of place here. Kendall’s version is a bit more restrained that the version heard in The Wiz. “In Jesus Name” is a very good song and Kendall does his part to sell it, but just feels a bit out of character in terms of style.
“I Am Redeemed” features an a cappella group credited as “The Spirituals.” It’s still Kendall, Pearson, & Barker doing the actual singing, but with Barker offering some classic “boom boom” bass parts. Even though it’s the longest song on the CD at 4 minutes and 40 seconds, and I’m the sort who tends to prefer quicker cuts, this is one of my favorite songs on this recording. I also like its placement at the end of the CD.
Ease On Down The Road has eight songs I’d enjoy hearing again on repeat listens. I’m not as crazy about “The King We Need” or “In Jesus Name,” partly because the string parts aren’t convincing, and partly because Kendall’s high note at the end of “The King We Need” is a tad strained. Of course, some singers have more of a tense tone all the time, which is their style, but it seems wrong to hear a note like that when the rest of the time, Kendall’s vocal style is one of confidence and baritone to mid-range clarity. For those reasons (and the odd grey-green background colors of the cover photo), Ease On Down The Road lands at 3 1/2 Stars on a scale of 1 to 5 Stars.
On the positive side, I like the way Kendall has created mostly unique arrangements. I wish every artist who records a CD of mostly cover songs would take a similar approach, making each song unique to them as opposed to trying to match an older recording.
PRODUCERS: Alan Kendall and Corey Pearson
SONG TITLES: Satisfied; Where Is God; The Sun Will Shine Again; Too Much Complaining; First Day In Heaven; The King We Need; That’s Enough; Ease On Down; In Jesus Name; I Am Redeemed.
RATING: 3 1/2 (scale of 1-5)