Tiffany Coburn’s Near To The Heart is an orchestrated blend of both modern and traditional hymns in the tried-and-true inspirational style established by Sandi Patty and others in the 1980s. Coburn covers two hymns (“Not In My Strength” and “Jesus”) that were first heard on 2018’s Fanny Crosby: Newly Discovered Hymns & Songs. She is also joined by Voctave for “The Way Of Love” and “How Great Thou Art.” (Coburn is a member of Voctave.)
Pros: The swing jazz version of “Blessed Assurance” is very nice, and the song selection is top-notch.
Cons: The orchestration is bombastic in spots. There’s also a point at the top of Coburn’s range where her tone becomes more piercing than pleasant (particularly on the a cappella arrangement of “How Great Thou Art”).
Rating: 4 Stars (scale of 1-5)
Label: StowTown Records
Producers: Wayne Haun, Trey Ivey, Mike Swift, Jamey Ray
Song Titles: Praise to the Lord, The Almighty; The Way of Love (featuring Voctave); Not In My Strength; Easter Song (Hear the Bells Ringing); Blessed Assurance; That’s What Love Can Do; Near To The Heart Of God; How Great Thou Art (featuring Voctave); Jesus
Stan Whitmire is a familiar face to longtime fans of the Nelons and Mark Lowry. He has also released quite a few meditative piano solo recordings on the Green Hill label over the years. Best Of Stan Whitmire: Hymns & Gospel Favorites is a compilation of some of those recordings.
Pros: Whitmire creates inventive arrangements and chord structures. His delivery leans more to classy than flashy. I was particularly pleased to see two songs from his Old Time Gospel Piano album included (even though they were two of the slowest arrangements).
Cons: Due to the concept nature of music on the Green Hill label (slower), the sheer length (15 songs) of this compilation, and the limitation to piano as the only instrument, there’s only so much even a gifted performer like Whitmire can do to sustain interest.
Rating: 3 1/2 Stars (scale of 1-5)
Label: Green Hill Records
Song Titles: His Eye Is On The Sparrow; Jesus Is The Sweetest Name I Know/His Name Is Wonderful/O, How I Love Jesus; Precious Lord, Take My Hand; The Grace Of God; Wait Till You See Me In My New Home; Christ The Lord Is Risen Today; He Looked Beyond My Fault (And Saw My Need); How Great Thou Art; Blessed Assurance; At The Cross/At Calvary/The Old Rugged Cross; It Is Well With My Soul; He Is Lord; Life Will Be Sweeter; Ave Maria; The Lord’s Prayer
The Gaither Music Group continues to repackage old recordings from their extensive vault of Homecoming recordings. I’m assuming their fans are continuing to buy them. They surely wouldn’t continue if these weren’t turning a reasonable profit.
This is another one of those.
Pros: Hear Jake, Jessy, George, Glen, and other gospel legends one more time.
Cons: Pay one more time for a collection of songs you probably already own.
Rating: 3 Stars
Label: Gaither Music Group
Song Titles: I Just Feel Like Something Good Is About To Happen; Joy Comes In The Morning; I’ve Just Seen Jesus; Because He Lives; I’m Free; Thanks To Calvary (I Don’t Live Here Anymore); He Touched Me; I Am Loved; It Won’t Rain Always; The Church Triumphant; I Believe In A Hill Called Mount Calvary; Old Friends