New Music Reviews: Late April 2021 Releases

New Music Reviews: Late April 2021 Releases

Click HERE to listen to all of these albums.

Artist: Jeff Stice
Label: Daywind Instrumental
Album Title: Sheltered In The Arms Of God: A Piano Tribute To The Songs Of Dottie Rambo
Song Titles: Holy Spirit, Thou Art Welcome In This Place; He Looked Beyond My Faults; Prisoner Of Love; I Go To The Rock; For What Earthly Reason; Build My Mansion Next Door To Jesus; When I Lift Up My Head; Too Much To Gain To Lose; I Just Came To Talk With You Lord; Sheltered In The Arms Of God
Release Date: April 23, 2021
Version Rated: YouTube Music
Rating: 2 1/2 Stars (scale of 1-5 Stars)

Summary: The latest album by Jeff Stice honors ten songs written by the great Dottie Rambo. Sheltered In The Arms Of God is a solo piano recording.

By the third song (“Prisoner Of Love”), it seemed obvious that even the songs with the potential to move at a quicker tempo would instead be presented slowly. Thankfully, the fourth track (“I Go To The Rock”) has some fun blues notes and a nice left-hand rhythmic pattern propelling the arrangement forward. The next two tracks return to the solemn pace of the earlier tracks, but then there’s an excellent up-tempo take on “When I Lift Up My Head.” This, of course, is the highlight of the entire album, given that it is different from everything else.

The decision to create an entire album with only an occasional variation of tempo or playing style may have been Stice’s or perhaps the entire Daywind Instrumental line is purposefully meant to be a carbon copy of the generally boring concept music we’re already familiar with from the Green Hill label. There probably is a market for music like this, though it’s not a recording I enjoy. (Dino Kartsonakis sold a ton of CDs in his Peace… series back in the day, for example. Of course, those have the novelty of nature sounds added to the mix to set them apart.) Whatever the circumstances might have been that led to its release, Sheltered In The Arms Of God fails to showcase the impressive player we know Jeff Stice is and therefore, is a disappointment.


Artist: Joseph Habedank
Label: Daywind Records
Album Title: Change Is Coming
Song Titles: Thief In The Night; Change Is Coming; Religion Isn’t Working; Jericho; 24 Hours; Child Of The King; Judas; Rebel With A Cause; Not Far From Home; Rise Above Eden.
Release Date: April 30, 2021
Version Rated: YouTube Music
Rating: 5 Stars (scale of 1-5 Stars)

Summary: I keep going back to the same adjective to describe Joseph Habedank’s music: epic. Change Is Coming sets the stage on the opening track (“Thief In The Night”) with an anticipatory chant, “Are you ready, oh, are you ready” followed by a piano rhythm that slowly builds to a full band driving the energy. “Change Is Coming” expands on the same theme with the word “change” in the title referring to Jesus Christ himself.

“Religion Isn’t Working” is the first single from Change Is Coming. The sentiment is great, but Habedank may have rethought the hook line “religion isn’t working anymore” since recording it. At a recent concert, he added an extra spoken line near the end of the song, “it never has.” “Anymore” still suggests that religion did work at some point in the past. Of course, there’s also James 1:27 to consider where “pure and undefiled religion” is defined. True religion as James described worked in the past and still works today. The lyric fails to raise that point. That being said, all forms of religion outside of Christianity and sadly, often within Christianity as well, do not work. Habedank’s message needs to be heard, acknowledged, and acted upon for purposes of correction by true believers.

The energy ramps back up for “Jericho” with a repeated chant of the song’s title propelling the chorus. “24 Hours” is a timely song about Habedank’s struggles with addiction. This lyric has the potential to help others who either currently are or may later be in a similar situation. The mood of “Child Of The King” is light-hearted. “Judas” is every bit as serious as the title implies but contains the positive message that Christ still loves us even though we are just as undeserving as Judas. “Rebel With A Cause” explores the theme of Christ upsetting the status quo. The album closes with two softer, reflective tracks: “Not Far From Home” and “Rise Above Eden.”

Habedank possesses the vocal skills to “show off” at every opportunity, but it is refreshing to hear a vocalist who resists the temptation to over-embellish every line. Sure, he colors his melodies with altered tones and a few decorative notes here and there, but it’s tasteful.

Change Is Coming gets bonus marks for being timely and thematically consistent in addition to just being excellent music. This album is highly recommended and earns 5 Stars.


Artist: Tiffany Coburn
Label: StowTown Records
Album Title: You Are More
Song Titles: Matchless (with Point Of Grace); What If It’s Us; You Are More; Roll Back River (with Ernie Haase & Signature Sound); Then There’s Grace (with Joseph Habedank); When I Let It Go; Nobody Knows Better Than Me (with The Isaacs); Let Your Light So Shine; Seasons Of The Soul
Release Date: April 30, 2021
Version Rated: YouTube Music
Rating: 3 1/2 Stars (scale of 1-5 Stars)

Summary: Tiffany Coburn is a member of Disney’s Voices Of Liberty as well as the a cappella ensemble Voctave. You Are More is her second solo release since joining StowTown Records in 2019. There are nine tracks.

The pacing of You Are More could be better. The soulful “Let Your Light So Shine” is one track that immediately captures your attention, but it’s positioned next to last rather than near the beginning of the album. Thankfully, the album remains interesting due to four tracks that feature collaborations with other artists. Point Of Grace appears on the leisurely-paced opening track “Matchless.” Ernie Haase & Signature Sound drop by for one of the few upbeat songs, “Roll Back River.” The soaring duet “Then There’s Grace” with Joseph Habedank is effective, and the bluegrass-inspired “Nobody Knows Better Than Me” with The Isaacs is another memorable cut.

Coburn is an accomplished and confident singer, but this album would be more interesting if her vocals were just a bit more expressive and distinctive from other singers. You Are More features excellent production quality and the lyrical content is solid. Some of the orchestration work is routine, however. The overall result is an album that has a few too many boring moments.

Jeff Stice
2.5 out of 5
Joseph Habedank
5 out of 5
Tiffany Coburn
3.5 out of 5
Overall

Average rating of all three albums

3.67

Average
3.67 out of 5

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Category CD Reviews, 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.

MusicScribe Comments

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3 Comments

  1. Reply May 15, 12:51 #1 Tad Kirkland

    I’ve been trying to figure out what Habedank’s Jericho sounded like. I finally figured out it’s Jordin Sparks’ Battlefield!

  2. Reply May 20, 07:55 #2 Quartet-man

    It sounds like most of Stice’s album might be good for background or worship music, but not so much as a listening experience for enjoyment as a whole.

    I had seen Habedank’s album advertised, and although I had eventually intended on getting it, you have stepped up my desire to do it sooner than later.


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