Produced by Chris Golden
Format: CD & Digital
Release Date: March 15, 2019
Format Reviewed: CD (provided)
Rating: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
SONG TITLES: Thank You Lord For This Day (Stephen Allen Davis) / If Not For You (Corey Lee Barker/Steve Schuch) / I What’nt Ready Yet (Stephen Allen Davis) / Grateful (Reed Waddle/Troy Catellano/William Diluigi) / Just A Little Talk With Jesus (Cleavant Derricks) / Your Son (Jennifer Lynn/Mark Narmore) / Prodigals (Chris Golden/Dianne Wilkinson) / Wash Away (Chris O’Connor/Steve Schuch) / Let My Life Be A Light (Chris Golden/Debbie Benett/Dianne Wilkinson) / It’s A God Thing (Jerry Salley/Rusty Golden)
If I were asked to define the term “country gospel,” I would most likely answer with, “Listen to Chris Golden.” This is best described by Golden himself in the auto-biographical “Prodigals,” which he co-wrote with Dianne Wilkinson, where he sings, “I was born in the country/It was church ev’ry Sunday/The roots of my raisin’ run deep/I tried to stay true to it/But the bright lights and the music/Took me farther than I ever thought I could be…”
Indeed, Golden’s musical journey (which can be traced to his childhood) has gone from gospel to country to rock and back again. With Grateful, his third solo gospel release, Golden continues on his current journey, merging meaningful messages with traditional country stylings.
The title track, “Grateful,” was was released late last year as a video and single, and has quickly gained attention, earning Golden an Inspirational Country Music Association award for Video Of The Year. It’s a simple song with a simple, yet poignant message to be thankful for the little things in life.
“I What’nt Ready Yet,” aside from using some poetic license in the title, faces the hesitation a new believer may have in coming to acceptance of salvation, an interesting idea that isn’t often addressed in gospel music, as written by Stephen Allen Davis. Part of what makes Golden’s music stand out is an honesty and vulernability in his song selection that is often lacking in the genre.
“Thank You Lord For This Day,” another Davis composition, will most likely be familiar to fans of the Golden family, as Chris’ brother, Rusty, also recorded this song a few years back on his own solo project (for which Chris was the drummer). Chris’ version debuted on Huckabee recently, and his version is a bit more country-leaning, replacing the wailing sax with an electric guitar. This would make a good choice for a single.
On his last few albums, Golden has relied on covers of other artists’ material; this time out, he shares co-writing duties on a few titles, including the auto-biographical “Prodigals,” mentioned above, and the bouncy “Let My Life Be A Light,” with a bit of some 1950’s influence.
The stand-out track on this album is “Your Son,” a warning against judgement of others by asking, “What if that were your son?” The message is driven home by realizing that even God’s Son was judged and ultimately sacrified by those around Him.
What makes Golden’s albums stand out among the crowd is the fact that a good chunk of them are produced, arranged, and recorded by Golden himself in his home studio, with only a few select instruments and vocalists being outsourced to friends. This becomes all the more impressive when listening to songs like “It’s A God Thing” with its extended instrumental ending, in that it doesn’t sound manufactured or faked – it’s very organic and natural. Mixed by Larry Marrs, it’s very sonically pleasing and balanced.
With Grateful, Chris Golden offers up not just some solid songs, but a thematic album that focuses on finding reasons to be thankful in each day and a testimony from someone who is still on a journey of his own and has plenty to be thankful for himself.