New Music Reviews: Early April 2021 Releases

New Music Reviews: Early April 2021 Releases

Click HERE to listen to all of these albums.

Artist: The Inspirations
Album Title: What A Wonderful Time Live
Song Titles: Reunion In Heaven; Jesus Is Coming Soon; When I Walk On The Streets Of Gold; Living On Higher Ground; Mother (Listen To The Angels); He Made A Way; When He Blessed My Soul; Home Is Sounding Sweeter; Shouting Time In Heaven; Jesus Is Mine; When I Wake Up To Sleep No More.
Release Date: April 2, 2021
Version Rated: YouTube Music
Rating: 3 1/2 Stars (scale of 1-5 Stars)

Summary: Martin Cook, Jack Laws, Archie Watkins, Troy Burns, and Ronnie Hutchins were all young guys in 1967 when they released an album titled What A Wonderful Time. Current young Inspirations members Isaac Moore, Roland Kesterson, Lucas Vaught, and Wyatt Austin are generating a similar level f excitement among fans and have borrowed the 1967 title for their 2021 release What A Wonderful Time Live. Many longtime Inspirations have been comparing Moore’s vocals to Archie Watkins and saying Austin’s style reminds them of Mike Holcomb. Vaught and Kesterson have obviously been traveling with the group for several years by this point and already have a good rapport with their fans.

Recorded at the NQC Fall Festival in 2020, most of the songs on this album are familiar including “Reunion In Heaven” which was on the original What A Wonderful Time as well as classic favorites like “Jesus Is Mine,” “Jesus Is Coming Soon,” and “When I Wake Up To Sleep No More.” A more recent song is “Home Is Sounding Sweeter” which is written by Kesterson.

Like many modern live albums, What A Wonderful Time Live edits out almost everything that surely must have happened between the songs. Yes, we can hear the crowd as they applaud after each song, but we don’t hear the voice of an emcee asking the crowd to make them welcome as they come to the stage or at the end asking the crowd if they enjoyed the group. The only group member introduced is Kesterson before “Home Is Sounding Sweeter” and that’s also the only song with a spoken introduction.


Artist: Liberty Quartet
Album Title: Miles Of Miracles
Song Titles: Miles Of Miracles; Just Can’t Help But Tell It; Redemption’s Song (with Satisfied); Cast Your Cares; Never Again; Guilt Was Covered By Grace; Praise Him Now; Thank You For The Song; Problem Solver; All Is Well; I Can Count On The Lord; He Is Who He Says He Is; One Song Away.
Release Date: April 1, 2021
Version Rated: CD
Rating: 4 Stars (scale of 1-5 Stars)

Summary: Liberty Quartet’s new album Miles Of Miracles offers thirteen tracks with a nice range of styles so there’s something just about everyone should enjoy.

The title song is set over a modern track while “Just Can’t Help But Tell It” is a traditional toe-tapper written by Dianne Wilkinson and Rebecca Peck. Two more songs from the same songwriting team appear later (“I Can Count On The Lord” and “He Is Who He Says He Is”) as well as another song by Peck (“Redemption’s Song”). Liberty also draws heavily from songwriter Marty Funderburk, including four of his co-writes (“Never Again,” “Guilt Was Covered By Grace,” “All Is Well,” “One Song Away”).

The musical variety continues with the lazy Dixieland setting of “Cast Your Cares” and the upbeat, countrified “Praise Him Now.” The relaxed Dixieland feel returns for “He Is Who He Says He Is.” Two songs that stand out for their lyrical content are “Thank You For The Song” (Doran Ritchey) and “All Is Well” (Marty Funderburk and Marcia Henry).

Liberty Quartet’s vocals are a team effort. No individual singer is the group’s star. Their sound is balanced with every man doing his job well. That plus the sheer quantity of good music are the most obvious strengths of Miles Of Miracles.


Artist: Annie Moses Band
Album Title: Tales From My Grandpa’s Pulpit
Song Titles: In My Grandpa’s Pulpit; Saw’yer Fiddle; Great Is Thy Faithfulness; Old Hat; Light Of The Mountain; Ghost Riders In The Sky; Tumbleweed; ‘Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus/There’s Not A Friend; Eb & Flo; How Can I Keep From Singing; Shall We Gather At The River; Heaven’s A Heartbeat Away; I Hung My Head; Everlasting Arms Medley; Orange Blossom Special; We Have This Moment Today
Release Date: April 16, 2021
Version Rated: YouTube Music
Rating: 4 1/2 Stars (scale of 1-5 Stars)

Summary: Bill Wolaver, who has released several piano solo books over the years should be familiar to many church pianists. Wolaver’s six children grew up to form the Annie Moses Band (named for their great-grandmother) after being trained at the classical Juilliard School.

From the opening line of the first song “in my Grandpa’s pulpit was a bible and a gun,” you know their music is going to be unique. (Grandpa, as it turns out, could preach to sinners from either one.) The instrumental “Saw’yer Fiddle” combines virtuoso fiddling and mandolin over a driving rhythm. Original songs like these alternate with fresh takes on standard hymns like “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” and “Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus.”

Seeing “Ghost Riders In The Sky” on this album might be a surprise, but it’s just another testament to the variety of music the Annie Moses Band likes to present. You’ve never heard it quite like this. “How Can I Keep From Singing” is an interesting track as is the sad story “I Hung My Head.” The ever-popular fiddle standard “Orange Blossom Special” doesn’t get the rote treatment here, but instead explores a fun array of tempos. Of course, with this album being a Gaither Gospel Series release, there is an obligatory Gaither song (“We Have This Moment Today”) included.

There’s no denying the musical skill of the Annie Moses Band. Vocally, Annie Wolaver Dupre, who sings lead on most songs, is more of an acquired taste. Her style is generally pleasing, but there are a few moments where her tone is rather piercing. That observation aside, the Annie Moses Band is a group that, if you aren’t already familiar with them, you should check out.

Inspirations
3.5 out of 5
Liberty Quartet
4 out of 5
Annie Moses Band
4.5 out of 5
Overall

Average rating of all three albums

4

Good
4 out of 5

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Category CD Reviews

David Bruce Murray

David Bruce Murray is a church music director in Ellenboro, NC. He is the author of Murray's Encyclopedia Of Southern Gospel Music and the owner of both SGHistory.com and MusicScribe.com. David plays piano for Southern Sounds Quartet and the Foothills Community Choir.

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1 Comment

  1. Reply May 02, 13:58 #1 Daniel h

    Young Inspirations “sung the glory down” with He Made A Way on Singapore the Glory Down. Definitely a standout to me on the album.

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