Soul’d Out Quartet has been traveling and singing since 2004. The current line-up includes their ten-year veteran tenor Dusty Barrett, lead Jason McAtee who is celebrating two years with the group, baritone and group founder/owner Matt Rankin, and bass Ian Owens who has completed roughly six years with Soul’d Out. Their upcoming CD, Run To The Light, marks a stylistic transformation for Soul’d Out that may not appeal to the majority of traditional quartet audiences, but should gain them a fresh generation of fans.
Matt Rankin wrote eight of the ten songs that appear on Run To The Light including seven as a solo writer and one (“Next To A Holy God”) with Joel Lindsey. “I Will Do The Same” is a Joe Beck/Timothy Hayes co-write, while the Imperials classic “Water Grave” comes from the pen of Steve Chapman. Speaking of the Imperials, “I Will Do The Same” sounds like something the final version of the Imperials might have recorded. McAtee’s ad-libbed lines toward the end of the song in particular are from the Shannon Smith/Jeremie Hudson playbook.
“Heaven” is a light-hearted feature for Dusty Barrett. I enjoyed the rollicking piano on the intro and turnaround for “That Wonderful Day” and the subtle horn fills that help set this arrangement apart. McAtee steps up front again for “Next To A Holy God.” There’s a epic quality to his vocal tone that you won’t often hear in a male quartet, and the track appropriately matches his intensity.
Barrett is featured on “Lord Take This Life” and the first radio single from this recording, “The Return.” The rollicking piano returns for “Run To The Light,” but I found this lyric to be a bit mundane with rather predictable rhymes and a track that’s just a bit too busy for the vocals.
“Jesus Is My Best Friend” has a compelling blues groove that sets the stage perfectly for an Ian Owens bass solo feature. I’ve already mentioned the cover of the Imperials’ “Water Grave.” The track used by Soul’d Out here is the same one you may have heard on the Imperials’ 2007 CD, Back To The Roots, with some additional studio doctoring. Run To The Light closes with an understated piano and string orchestra arrangement titled “Hallelujah What A Savior.” Of all the lyrics written by Rankin for this CD, this is my favorite.
Run To The Light is not a recording I would entirely classify as a revival of the sound popularized by the final line-up of the Imperials, but several songs here are in the same musical territory. On the flip-side, some of the material is a bit weak. I don’t say that to put down Matt Rankin’s songwriting. In fact, most of his songs are very good. I just wish he would employ an outside producer and empower that person with veto authority on song selection. The result would be an overall improved product.
And by the way, let me reiterate just to be very clear: Jason McAtee is powerhouse lead singer!
Label: Horizon Records
Producer: Matt Rankin & Soul’d Out Quartet
Song Titles: I Will Do The Same; Heaven; That Wonderful Day; Next To A Holy God; Lord Take This Life; The Return; Run To The Light; Jesus Is My Best Friend; Water Grave; Hallelujah What A Savior
Group Members: Dusty Barrett, Jason McAtee, Matt Rankin, Ian Owens
Release Date: August 24, 2018
Rating: 4 Stars (scale of 1-5 Stars)