Produced by Jason Webb
Format: CD & Digital
Release Date: September 2021
Format Reviewed: Digital
SONG TITLES: Here In This Place (Jim Brady/Tony Wood/Don Poythress) / God So Loved (Andrew Bergthold/Martin Cash/Franni Rae/Scott Cash) / Rise Again (Dallas Holm) / I Am Loved (William J. Gaither/Gloria Gaither) / I Gave Up (Seth Mosley/Mia Fields/Mark Schultz) / Perfect Praise (Brian Mark Willett) / Shall We Gahter At The River (Robert Lowery) / Take Another Step (Steven Curtis Chapman) / Almost Morning (Joseph Habedank/Matthew Holt)
A few months ago, the Booth Brothers announced a lineup change unlike previous changes when founding member Ronnie Booth stepped down from full-time gospel singing. The trio brought in former member of the Mullins and the Gaither Vocal Band, Buddy Mullins, as their new vocalist, joining Michael Booth and Paul Lancaster. Take Another Step is their first recording with Mullins as a member.
Right off the bat, one can tell that traditional vocal assignments are not a priority with this new lineup. While Lancaster appears to have become the de facto lead singer (he carries a lot of the melodies), the three members aren’t afraid to swap around parts as the songs dictate. I somewhat suspected this to be the case when Mullins was hired, as he has a similar range to Lancaster and could just as easily hit some of the higher notes.
And yet, the fundamental Booth Brothers sound is still intact. Nothing is over-sung, and the vocal gymnastics are used sparingly, creating a consistently pleasing sound from the trio, which is balanced well with the music tracks.
The album starts off with the slower “Here In This Place.” While I’m usually not a fan of starting of albums with a ballad, it works here as an opportunity to showcase the harmonies out front and prove that the Booth Brothers are still the Booth Brothers. From here, we are treated to a nice mix of uptempo, mid-tempo, and power ballads.
Stand outs include “Rise Again,” which gives Mullins a chance to shine. The arrangement here reminded me a bit of Ray Boltz’s version from the early 90’s, only not as epic and without the key change. For as many times as this song has been covered, this one is among my favorites. “I Gave Up,” which maybe a bit clunky in the lyrics, is nonetheless a bouncy number that I find myself repeating at least once.
The title track, “Take Another Step,” is likewise a catchy, uptempo composition that originated as an album cut from Steven Curtis Chapman’s The Glorious Unfolding project (Michael Booth must be a SCC fan, because he covered “The Glorious Unfolding” on his last solo project, as well). It’s not surprising that this is the most contemporary sounding on the album.
The production work by Jason Webb is quite impressive, especially when you consider that most songs consist of no more than 4 musicians total. In an era where a lot of recordings are sounding rather plastic and overly-compressed, Webb’s production comes across clean and clear (if somewhat overly-stacked at times).
I’m not entirely sure why only 9 songs were included here. Why not just go for a 10-song project and be done with it?
This album appears to be strictly an independent release, so don’t expect to find it on streaming platforms just yet. It’s currently only available directly from the Booth Brothers on their website (though, kudos to making it available in both CD and digital formats and including full credits with the digital release). This would be an idea album to be picked up a SG label (StowTown currently seems like the obvious choice).
At any rate, if you were concerned that Ronnie Booth’s absence would negatively impact the Booth Brothers’ sound, I can assure you that they are still the Booth Brothers, and they are still creating top-notch music.