CD Review: “Victory Shout” – The Kingsmen

by | Jun 8, 2019 | CD Reviews, Reviews

Victory Shout
Produced by Jeff Collins
Horizon Records

https://www.kingsmenquartet.com/
Format: CD & Digital
Release Date: June 7, 2019
Format Reviewed: CD (provided)

Tune-O-Meter: Medium-High

Rating: 3.5 stars (out of 5)

SONG TITLES: Running To Win (Sandy Knight) /  Just Climb  (Adina Bowman/Gene Ezell/Karen Gillespie) / I’ve Ever Been Glad (Regina Walden) / Victory Shout (Jason Cox/Kenna West) / Dear John (Jason Cox/Joseph Habedank/Kenna West) / It Still Changes Me (Chris Binion/Matthew Lawson) / King Of Kings (Rebecca Peck/Dianne Wilkinson) / Prodigal Son (Larry Gatlin) / You’ll Move Mountains For Me (Karen Gillespie/Rachel McCutcheon) / That’s Where You’ll Find Me (Jason Cox/Kenna West)

The Kingsmen have been going through a re-invention of sorts in recent years, transitioning from their “three chords and a cloud of dust” formula of years past to more intricate and progressive arrangements. Victory Shout continues this trend. It also marks the debut album for newest members Chris Bryant and Alan Kendall.

The title cut (and lead-off single), “Victory Shout,” has already been getting airplay and exposure via digital outlets and gaining good response. It’s a good choice to build upon the momentum from their last two albums.

There are times where they seem to be pulling from their previous two releases, Battle Cry (2014) and They Don’t Know (2017), from a stylistic standpoint, anyway. For example, the opening track, “Running To Win,” sounds similar to “They Don’t Know,” with the backing hornline, while the second track, “Just Climb,” resembles “I’ve Never Seen The Righteous Forsaken.” Not a bad thing, necessarily, just an observation.

That doesn’t mean that here aren’t some new paths here. “Dear John” pushes the progressive sound further with a bouncy mid-tempo arrangement and some impressive contemporary modern vocals, while “You’ll Mountains For Me” sounds like it came off a mid-90’s Brian Free & Assurance album.

Tenor Chris Jenkins gets a lot of feature time, getting leads or step-out lines on multiple tracks. He also gets to show off the lower part of his range more, most notable on “Victory Shout.” This may have been a conscious decision giving the more long-term member more to do while giving the new guys some room to grow.

One gripe I have is with their cover of “The Prodigal Son,” originally recorded by Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers and The Oak Ridge Boys. The Kingsmen have bumped the tempo to the point of rushing and even altered the chord structure in the chorus. Some fans may enjoy it, but being a fan of the original version, it’s hard to get into this reinterpretation.

This album, like the last few (and the majority of the albums coming from Horizon/Crossroads), is produced by Jeff Collins, which means we get a solid, even mix with some fairly standard arrangements flavored here and there with a few surprises. It also means that the vocals are a bit too-finely-tuned at times, with the tuning being rather obvious at times and the phrasing edited to the point of over-perfection. This is most notable on “Just Climb,” where the phrasing on the chorus is dragged a bit, but still perfectly timed.

When the Kingsmen released Battle Cry in 2014, they did so after having some time to gel as a group with their newest members at the time. Victory Shout feels like it could’ve been at the same level had the group had a little more time once again to find their footing together. That’s not to say this isn’t a good album, necessarily. It’s an enjoyable listen; it’s just not a “landmark” album.

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Kyle Boreing

Kyle Boreing

Kyle has been writing for MusicScribe since 2008. He is a musician, producer, arranger, and occasional quartet singer, who pays way too much attention to recordings. He is an alumni of Stamps-Baxter School of Music and has shared the stage with many different artists. He also really likes movies that are "so bad they're good." Visit his website at kyleboreing.com, or follow him on Twitter @kyleboreing.

19 Comments

  1. David Stuart

    I really love the new cd, and all the new songs too. It’s a great project. If I had to pick something negative, I’d say the new cardboard packaging, but I guess all the groups are heading that direction now. I wasnt too wild on the cd cover shot, but I guess it will grow on me, lol. Its unique.

    Reply
  2. Jim Feitzel

    Prodigal Son was actually sent to the Kingsmen by Larry in 1991, a few years before Larry himself actually recorded it six years later. Larry must’ve been happy with it, because he sent them “Healing Stream” and “The Cross Has Won Again” for their next album.

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=P1vI22mlLdU

    Reply
    • Kyle Boreing

      The original version of this song, as recorded by the Gatlin Brothers, was released on their “Cookin’ Up A Storm” album in 1990 (and predates the orginal Kingsmen version). It featured a guest appearance by The Oak Ridge Boys. It has since been re-recorded several times by the Gatlins, both in-studio and live.

      Reply
  3. Darrell

    Just listen to the whole album on YouTube. Fairly good overall. One thing I noticed was that Ray actually got 2 features on this album. I believe on the last one he had zero. Also isn’t the Prodigal Son version the same one they recorded way back when Gary Shephard, Tim Surrett and Parker Jonathan were with the group? It might be sped up a little bit but not much. So they’re basically redoing a version that they recorded 20 + years ago

    Reply
    • Steve

      I listened to a few live versions of the song the Kingsmen did during the Gary Sheppard years and the table project version. If I’m remembering correctly, the verses used a half time rhythm and then on the last chorus it went full speed.

      The recut version, which I really like by the way, seems to just keep the throttle wide open the whole time. I do agree that it may be a little sped up but I liked it.

      On a side note, I hope that this lineup stays together for a while because they seem to have not only a strong vocal presence but also an energetic stay presence that is very natural.

      Reply
  4. Tad Kirkland

    I don’t get calling it progressive—maybe progressive compared to Saints Will Rise but it sounds like pretty standard quartet fare for 2019. Brian Free and Assurance is progressive.

    Reply
    • Darrell

      The only song I thought was overly progressive was Dear John. And that was the first I listened to it. The seond time around I as well thought it to be pretty standard fare for quartet music in this day and age

      Reply
  5. Bill

    It’s funny, you can never satisfy a critic. Typically when a group recuts a song from their catalog the complaint is that it sounds too much like the original. Here The Kingsmen make a few changes to Prodigal Son and it gets knocked for it. Overall I think this matches Battle Cry as far as traditional Kingsmen type songs with a few more progressive songs. Chris B. and Alan and great additions to the group and I think this recording will produce several top 5 and a few number one songs!

    Reply
    • David Bruce Murray

      Of course, you can satisfy a critic. Look at any CD we’ve rated 4 1/2 to 5 Stars. We’re satisfied with all of those.

      Reply
    • Kyle Boreing

      My personal opinion is that I didn’t like these particular changes this particular group made to this particular song.

      Reply
    • Daniel h

      I like both versions of the song. Love the Ray Deen Reese feature. The only thing that threw me off was the last line of the second verse they made a lyric change that sort of sounds strange going into the chorus. It wasn’t bad, just odd from the original

      Reply
      • Brent Jones

        I like the recut of “Prodigal Son” a lot. In fact, I like the clips I’ve heard of the entire album. I plan to buy a physical copy when I see the group next. I am really enjoying this lineup of the Kingsmen. I haven’t seen them with Chris as emcee. How is he doing in that role? I love his singing.

        Reply
        • Diana Brantley

          Chris is an excellent MC!

          Reply
      • Aaron Swain

        Where is the change? I must have missed it because I didn’t hear any difference from the original.

        Reply
        • Daniel h

          I was referring to the change in the lines “wound up in Las Vegas” to “wound up in my father’s arms.” Turns out the Kingsmen sang it that originally but the Gatlin Brothers did not.

          Reply
  6. Michael

    Since there’s a lot of discussion about the “Prodigal Son” recut, I saw a video of the Kingsmen doing the song when they originally cut it, and the first verse has the line “he was the SECOND-born of a wealthy man” whereas that line on this album says “he was the FIRST-born of a wealthy man”. Just wondering if anyone else noticed that change.

    Reply
    • David Bruce Murray

      Larry Gatlin who wrote the song also sings “first born” on that first verse.

      Scripturally, this is incorrect, because the prodigal son obviously had an elder brother.

      The Homeland EZ Key soundtrack I bought for it years ago says “second born” on the lyrics printed inside the J-card. I’ve also heard groups sing “second son.”

      Reply
  7. Dwight Thomas

    Well… the fans must be pretty happy with the album. Just saw a news report from Crossroads that the album debuted at #1 on Billboard southern gospel chart, #24 on the Billboard contemporary Christian chart, and #33 on the all Christian music genres chart. Never heard of that happening to the Kingsmen before. Take your victory lap boys!

    Reply

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