New Music Reviews: Late September 2021 Releases

New Music Reviews: Late September 2021 Releases

Click HERE to listen to all of these albums except Still Standing by the Mark Trammell Quartet.

Artist: Mark Trammell Quartet
Album Title: Still Standing
Producers: Mark Trammell & Trey Ivey
Label: Crimson Road Productions
Song Titles: Still Standing After The Storm; Come Thou Fount Medley; For The Life Of Me; Better Shores; What We Need; Walking With The Lord; Run To The Door; It Must Be Leaving Time; On The Rock Of Ages; We Shall See Jesus
Version Rated: CD
Rating: 5 Stars (scale of 1-5 Stars)

Still Standing by the Mark Trammell Quartet features ten tracks including one pleasant song written by lead singer Nick Trammell (“For The Life Of Me”), an exciting hymn medley, and a dynamic remake of Dianne Wilkinson’s classic “We Shall See Jesus.” Three of the remaining seven songs were written by Rodney Griffin including the opening song from which the album draws its title, “Still Standing After The Storm;” “It Must Be Leaving Time” which is just a great all-around quartet song (and the third best song on the entire album); and “Run To The Door” which is in a similar vein as “It Must Be Leaving Time.”

The album’s crown jewel is “What We Need,” a call to revival written by Chris Allman that features tenor singer Stephen Adair. The Rebecca Peck/Dianne Wilkinson song “On The Rock Of Ages” that precedes the closing remake of “We Shall Jesus” is my second favorite track. Of course, “We Shall See Jesus” is the one that is going to bring crowds to their feet night after night in future Mark Trammell Quartet concerts, just as it has done since the first time it was recorded by the Cathedrals nearly 40 years ago on their 1983 Live In Atlanta album.

I’m not crazy about the graphic design, but it’s gets the job done. There’s nothing about the artwork that rises to a point where it would diminish the 5-star rating this recording deserves. In every way that counts, Still Standing is all anyone could ask for in a traditional male quartet CD.


Artist: Tribute Quartet
Album Title: Once Again
Label: Daywind Records
Song Titles: Makes Me Wanna Go; Homesick Angel; That’s Why I Love Him So; Calvary Wins Again; Good News From Jerusalem; Homecoming Day; I’ve Been Blessed; I Am Healed; He Is Leading The Way; Outside The Gate
Version Rated: CD
Rating: 4 Stars (scale of 1-5 Stars)

As you may have gathered from the album title, Once Again features songs recorded previously by Tribute Quartet. All of these songs first appeared on albums released from 2009 to 2012 before Tribute began recording for the Daywind Records label. “I’ve Been Blessed,” “Calvary Wins Again,” “That’s Why I Love Him So,” and “I Am Healed” first appeared on the group’s breakout album For This Time released in 2009 on the Crossroads Music label. Tribute first recorded a cover version of “Outside The Gate” on Hit Replay in 2010. “Makes Me Wanna Go,” “Homecoming Day,” and “He Is Leading The Way” were all recorded previously in 2011 on The Waiting Is Over while “Good News From Jerusalem” and “Homesick Angel” were heard on the 2012 release Our Anthem. Both of those albums were on the Sonlite Records label.

If Once Again was merely a compilation of the original songs with no alteration, I would not bother writing a review. The tracks are the same, but the vocals feature the current lineup including tenor singer Gus Gaches and bass singer Ian Owens. It’s not entirely clear if Gary Casto and Josh Singletary recut every phrase or if some of their original vocals survived. The solo sections for sure are new. Fans should be happy to finally be able to buy a version of “Good News From Jerusalem” with Singletary performing in the half-sung/half-talk delivery style he adopted in concert at some point after his original rendition was recorded.

“Calvary Wins Again” has been lowered a step. This is possibly for Gaches’ benefit, but it may very well be for Owens as well. That bass solo on the first verse of the original version when Dennis Dugger sang it was pretty high.

Using the original tracks and more or less going for the same effect on every song, the differences between the songs on Once Again and the original recordings is marginal (with the exception of the aforementioned vocal style on “Good News From Jerusalem”). The advantage of having Once Again available is that Tribute can continue to stage these classic hits for years to come. They can sell Once Again to any fans who may not have the earlier CDs as well as to any long-time fans who are curious enough to want to hear how this current lineup sounds in the studio.


Artist: Mark Bishop
Producers: Jeff Collins & Mark Fain
Album Title: Some Distant Mountain
Label: Sonlite Records
Song Titles: Like A Songbird That Has Fallen; Across The River; Prophet Admiration; All My Tears Be Washed Away; Hardly The Load; Were You There; Shall We Gather At The River; One Wide River To Cross; The Most Ordinary Days; Gospel Plow; Early My God Without Delay.
Release Date: September 24, 2021
Version Rated: YouTube Music
Rating: 4 1/2 Stars (scale of 1-5 Stars)

Eclectic instrumentation by David Johnson, Andy Leftwich and Jeff Taylor mixes familiar sounds like banjo with not so familiar sources like the hurdy-gurdy on Mark Bishop’s latest album, Some Distant Mountain. Bishop’s vocals are augmented with harmonies sung by Lauren Talley, Sonya Isaacs Yeary, Ally Griggs, and Valerie Medkiff.

Top tracks include the opener “Like A Songbird That Has Fallen,” the mournful “The Most Ordinary Days,” and the lilting “Gospel Plow,” (It’s not often we hear a banjo set over a tuba.)

Some Distant Mountain receives high marks for sounding traditional, yet unpredictable.


Artist: Kellan Monroe
Album Title: Chasing
Label: Exit 109 Records
Song Titles: Head To The Heart; Wonder; Me Too; Chasing Back The Dark; What I Already Know; Never Gonna Let Me Go; Only Grace; His Eyes; He Will Carry You; What Would Jesus Undo
Release Date: September 24, 2021
Version Rated: YouTube Music
Rating: 4 Stars (scale of 1-5 Stars)

If the name Kellan Monroe sounds familiar to you, it’s probably because you recall when he sang with Beyond The Ashes during the early 2010s. Monroe’s new solo album Chasing features light pop production and relevant, thought-provoking lyrics. My favorite tracks are Monroe’s cover versions of “Never Gonna Let Me Go” (Jason Ingram/Kristian Stanfill), “His Eyes” (Steven Curtis Chapman), and “What Would Jesus Undo” (Michael Boggs/Jason Cox).


Artist: Southbound
Album Title: self-titled
Label: Daywind Records
Song Titles: Power In The Blood; No Better Than That; He’s Got A Way; Address Change Notification; Sometimes It Takes A Mountain; A Little Something Like That; Gonna Be Alright; Daystar; The Blood Medley; Mighty River; He’s Been There All The Time; Graves Into Gardens
Release Date: September 24, 2021
Version Rated: YouTube Music
Rating: 4 Stars (scale of 1-5 Stars)

Southbound puts their own twist on the late Lari White’s arrangement of “Power In The Blood” to kick off their debut recording, setting the tone for the rest of their blue-eyed soul self-titled album. Their style would pair well with the music of Three Bridges.

I’m a bit surprised “Address Change Notification” is the first radio single from this album when there are several better tracks on this album. “No Better Than That” and “A Little Something Like That” get the blood pumping and “He’s Got A Way” has showstopper potential. There are good cover versions of “Sometimes It Takes A Mountain” and “Daystar” as well, but “Gonna Be Alright” is too repetitive.

This album could have benefitted from a couple more upbeat songs. The second half drags too much.


Artist: The Hyssongs
Album Title: Hope Wins
Song Titles: Never Be A Mountain; Hope Wins; Fountain Of Grace; Don’t Be Afraid; If My People Pray; He’s All That I Need; What You’re Going To Do; His Will, His Way, Our Faith; Take Away The Cross; When You Believe In God; Spirit Of The Lord
Release Date: September 28, 2021
Version Rated: YouTube Music
Rating: 3 Stars (scale of 1-5 Stars)

The Hyssongs hail from Maine. Their new album Hope Wins is pretty good overall. The songs are well-written and uplifting. The production is good throughout, especially the orchestration on “His Will, His Way, Our Faith” and the aggressive rhythm on “When You Believe In God.”

Vocal rhythms trend stiff in spots. For example, they sometimes opt to sing straight eighth notes when a swing feel could have enhanced the appeal. The group doesn’t have a dynamic singer to really sell solo passages, either, but their vocal blend in harmony sections is very pleasant. The unison bits on the closing track “Spirit Of The Lord” are a nice touch.

Mark Trammell Quartet
5 out of 5
Tribute Quartet
4 out of 5
Mark Bishop
4.5 out of 5
Kellan Monroe
4 out of 5
Southbound
4 out of 5
Hyssongs
3 out of 5
Overall

Average rating for all six albums:

4.08

Good
4.08 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.

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2 Comments

  1. Reply October 05, 15:52 #1 Robin

    I always enjoy your reviews, because they are introspective and honest about the highs and lows of a record. Thank you for being real.


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