Reidsville, North Carolina’s Down East Boys have been traveling and singing for over 30 years. Lead singer and group owner/manager Ricky Carden is joined by Doug Pittman (tenor), Daryl Paschal (baritone), and Zac Barham (bass). Paschal and Carden have stood side-by-side for over a decade, but Pittman and Barham are relative newcomers. In fact, the CD we’re considering today, One Day In The Past, is the first Down East Boys recording for both Pittman and Barham.
There’s a lot to love about One Day In The Past. “Beat Up Bible” features Carden Pittman, and is the first song sent out for radio airplay. It appears to be rising about as quickly as the sluggish Southern Gospel charts will allow. Pittman demonstrates his upper range on “I’d Love To Tell It Again” and a couple of slower-paced tracks (“The Blood Remains” and “Beautiful Valley”). Barham’s rich bass vocals are showcased back-to-back on tracks six and seven. These include the quick-paced “Testimony Time” and the compelling prayer “Jesus Have Mercy On Me.”
One fun lyric crams as many adjectives/clichés describing the heavenly shore as possible into a two minute, eleven second arrangement. It is appropriately titled “Beautiful Shining Happy Golden Shore.” “Somebody Is Me” is a another fun, high-energy arrangement. “That Would Be Amazing,” “Lord I Need You To Show Up,” and “Just What I Need” also combine excellent lyrics with entertaining combinations of vocals and instruments.
Now, let’s flashback for a moment.
Way back in 2011, I had some fun with the marketing department at the Horizon Record label. They got rather over-zealous promoting the release of a Down East Boys recording that year titled Amen, saying the recording was “among the best recorded male quartet vocal performances ever,” then proceeding to claim it combined “the intensity of the best of the Kingsmen, the precision of the best of the Cathedrals, and the sincerity of the best of Gold City.” I created a song clip comparison to prove it wasn’t true, and Horizon stepped in to give away some free music to defend their position.
In 2011, some fans were saying the Down East Boys were one of Southern Gospel’s most under-rated quartets. At that time, I didn’t quite agree. I thought they were correctly rated by most fans as a very good, but certainly not legendary, quartet.
Flash-forward back to today.
One Day In The Past moves that dial. Top to bottom, this is the best Southern Gospel CD I’ve heard since Beyond Amazed by Brian Free & Assurance (a September 2017 release). The additions of Pittman and Barham at the bookends are precisely what the Down East Boys needed, and the song selection comes from the top shelf. We can’t flash-forward from the present, but in time, those who survive will know if fans in the future will remember today’s Down East Boys in the same breath with the legendary groups of history. What I can definitely say today is that One Day In The Past takes a strong step in that direction.
Label: Sonlite Records
Producer: Jeff Collins
Song Titles: That Would Be Amazing; Somebody Is Me; I’d Like To Tell It Again; Beat Up Bible; Lord I Need You To Show Up; Testimony Time; Jesus Have Mercy On Me; Beautiful Shining Happy Golden Shore; The Blood Remains; Just What I Needed; Beautiful Valley
Group Members: Doug Pittman, Ricky Carden, Daryl Paschal, Zac Barham
Release Date: August 24, 2018
Rating: 5 Stars (scale of 1-5 Stars)