New Music Ratings: Mid-/Late-October 2021 Releases

New Music Ratings: Mid-/Late-October 2021 Releases

Click HERE to listen to all these albums on YouTube Music; then, come back here to leave us a comment letting us know if you agree with our reviews!

Artist: The Kingdom Heirs
Album Title: I Feel A Good Day Coming On
Label: Sonlite Records
Song Titles: A Good Day Coming On; The Gospel Truth; He’s Making Good; A Heaven Frame of Mind; God Knows How Much Mercy I Need; Jesus Is Enough; Tell Me Again; Never Changing God; What You Could Never Get Over; He Worked It Out; What My God Can Do
Version Rated: YouTube Music
Rating: 4 Stars (scale of 1-5 Stars)

I Feel A Good Day Coming On is a collection of eleven new songs by the Kingdom Heirs. This is the group’s first release since the addition of tenor singer Jacob Ellison. One curious thing about this album is the track order for the digital release appears to be different than the CD version; at least, the tracks are listed in a different order on the Kingdom Heir’s website. This review is based on the digital release.

“A Good Day Coming On” adds the 3 Heath Brothers for a showtune feel that’s a bit out of the ordinary for the Kingdom Heirs. It’s one of the albums highlights. Jeff Chapman and Jacob Ellison are both featured on “The Gospel Truth.” It will take me another album or so to adjust to Ellison’s sound after ten years of Jerry Martin. “He’s Making Good” offers a fun driving rhythm punctuated with brass licks. It showcases Arthur Rice.

It may sound like he’s singing the blues, but Loren Harris is rendering happy lyrics on “A Heaven Frame Of Mind.” Along with the title track, the other top song on this album is “God Knows How Much Mercy I Need.” It’s a simple message and a heartfelt truth sung with conviction by Arthur Rice. Ellison steps into the spotlight for “Jesus Is Enough,” a good song, but the chorus is a bit repetitive.

Of the remaining five songs, my favorite is “Never Changing God” (Chris Binion/Rachel McCutcheon) featuring Harris. This would be a great song to use as a concert closer. I’m glad to hear the Kingdom Heirs trying out a couple of new styles. “A Good Day Coming On” is a definite winner, but I’m less sure about “What You Could Never Get Over” with the Fender Rhodes accompaniment at the beginning. It feels awkward initially, but gets better when the rest of the instruments enter.

This is not the best the Kingdom Heirs have ever sounded from beginning to end on an album, but the best songs on I Feel A Good Day Coming On are really good. There are several potential hits here.


Artist: Mac Powell
Album Title: New Creation
Label: Sparrow Records
Song Titles: River Of Life; New Creation; Love Is The Reason; Be Praised; 1991; The Center Of It All; Joy Of The Lord; Jesus You Are; Everlasting Arms; Baptized
Version Rated: YouTube Music
Rating: 4 1/2 Stars (scale of 1-5 Stars)

After 27 years singing for Third Day, Mac Powell released a solo album in 2018 titled Southpaw followed by another band (of sorts) called Mac Powell & The Family Reunion that released Back Again in 2019. 2021 sees Powell back in the solo format with New Creation.

Some may wonder why I’d review Powell’s album for a website that generally focuses on Southern Gospel. Powell’s sometimes raspy, rich baritone vocals have always conveyed a distinctive Southern flavor; more Darius Rucker than Jim Hamill, sure, but still Southern. The acoustic guitar that drives the track for “Love Is The Reason” would sound right at home on Southern Gospel radio. As for the lyrics, it was Jeff Pardo and Hank Bentley who wrote the song with Powell, but it sounds like a song Mark Bishop could have written.

It’s not the only song that’s compatible style-wise; perhaps not for the most traditional Southern Gospel stations, but certainly for those that include artists like the Gaither Vocal Band and the Crabb Family on their playlists. The lead-off song “River Of Life” is a call to salvation, while “New Creation” is testimony about salvation. “Be Praised” is a scripture verse set to music over a mid-tempo groove. “1991” is a fantastic testimony song about Powell’s own salvation experience. The evangelistic theme continues on tracks like “Jesus You Are” and “Baptized” (featuring Matt Maher).

New Creation is worth checking out.


Artist: Jim & Melissa Brady
Album Title: Ever Faithful
Label: Daywind Records
Song Titles: To the King; Welcome; Great God Of My Joy; Jesus Stays; Good Things; He Will Carry You; Thunder; Ever Present Ever Faithful; Covered; When We All Get Home
Version Rated: YouTube Music
Rating: 3 1/2 Stars (scale of 1-5 Stars)

After downsizing from a trio to a duo in 2019, Jim & Melissa Brady have released a hymns album, a Christmas album, and a collection of their trio songs re-recorded as a duo. Ever Faithful is their first release of new material since the change in format.

From the first two tracks, it is evident they are going for more of a pop sound than traditional Southern. “To The King” starts with a processed keyboard sound and the processing continues when the vocals enter. There’s a driving rhythm and repetitive lyric on “Welcome” that is not so bad at first, but it wears out its…well, you know…when it runs for 4 1/2 minutes. The third track, “Great God Of My Joy,” is a refreshing relief with the stripped back approach on the first verse featuring Melissa before the rhythm kicks in on the chorus. Some fancy electric piano work at the end also sets this track apart. The slower paced “Jesus Stays” takes a similar approach with Jim singing the first verse over a simple electric piano that fakes us out by making us think it’s setting up a lullaby.

“Good Things” includes a “whoa” section which seems to be popular trend these days. If everybody does it, though, it stops being unique. Melissa has a very pleasing vocal tone that too often gets buried by the more complex arrangements. The best song on Ever Faithful is “He Will Carry You,” because the tasteful arrangement allows her voice to shine throughout. This is not the classic Scott Wesley Brown song, by the way, but it’s just as good.

“Thunder” is a worship song about God answering prayers in a mighty way, though the bridge lyrics might lead you to believe it’s also referring to the second coming of Christ. The final tracks include the orchestrated ballad “Ever Present, Ever Faithful,” the light-hearted “Covered,” and the plodding “When We All Get Home” that never pays off on the anticipation generated by the heavy-handed percussion and hand claps.

Jim and Melissa are both in fine voice on Ever Faithful, but some of their music production choices could be better. In some instances, the song selection could be improved as well. That being said, “He Will Carry You” is a great song and perhaps one or two more will catch your ear.


Artist: The Hall Sisters
Album Title: Depth Of Mercy
Label: Skinny Chicken Records
Song Titles: I Cannot Tell Why He; O The Deep Deep Love Of Jesus; Mansion Builder; I Heard The Voice Of Jesus Say; Of the Father’s Love Begotten; Immortal Invisible; The Coloring Song; Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus; Nearer My God To Thee; Depth Of Mercy
Version Rated: YouTube Music
Rating: 3 Stars (scale of 1-5 Stars)

The Hall Sisters are siblings who sing and play string instruments. They are billed on their website as a “country pop” group, but Depth Of Mercy fails to reflect that description.

The opening “I Cannot Tell Why He” features fresh lyrics paired with the classic Londonderry Aire melody (AKA “Danny Boy,” AKA “He Looked Beyond My Faults”) with a cappella segments and sections accompanied with strings. “O The Deep, Deep Love Of Jesus” continues in a similar marriage of classical melodies with a hint of Celtic rhythms.

Some processed country harmonies finally appear on “Mansion Builder,” but the accompaniment of piano, strings, and a bit of barely heard percussion is still a far cry from “pop.” Percussion is used sparingly throughout the album, which is fine, but the mix could have been improved if it had been brought up to balance and support the other instruments. Otherwise, why include it at all?

The Hall Sisters aren’t bad singers, but they’re better musicians. The best tracks with vocals are “Immortal Invisible” and “The Coloring Song.” The latter was originally recorded by Petra in 1981; I am pleased to see it revived 40 years later.

“I Heard The Voice Of Jesus Say” is a mournful dirge initially, but a contrasting instrumental section at the end offers a fun jig. The best instrumental feature is “Of The Father’s Love Begotten” where the fiddling throughout is especially impressive. “Nearer My God To Thee” is another instrumental highlight.

The Hall Sisters are definitely unique, and for that reason, you may want to check them out


Artist: 11th Hour
Album Title: Anthem Of The Ages
Label: Sonlite Records
Song Titles: Anthem Of The Ages; Whosoever Will May Come; I Know It’s Mine; Fear Get Out Of Here; Letters To Heaven; He Still Does; Bring That Giant Down; Only Jesus Saves; Awake; A Lot Of Life Out There; I Just Came To Talk With You Lord
Version Rated: YouTube Music
Rating: 4 1/2 Stars (scale of 1-5 Stars)

11th Hour continues to impress me with their ability to reload with fresh talent and still maintain their characteristic sound. Credit Amber Eppinette Saunders who has been the group’s only consistent vocalist, the group’s primary songwriter, and most importantly, the manager who makes the decision on who to hire next after someone resigns!

Anthem Of The Ages was recorded before the departure of Logan Smith, but after the arrival of Victoria Bowlin earlier this year. I don’t know if the generic album cover was selected before or after the label knew of Smith’s plans to leave. Three of the eleven songs were written by Bowlin. Saunders co-wrote four songs with Kenna Turner West plus three more for good measure. The only cover song a group member wasn’t involved in writing is Dottie Rambo’s classic “I Just Came To Talk With You Lord” which closes the album.

A song title like “Anthem Of The Ages” might be pretentious were it self-referential, but in this case, the lyric is ABOUT the anthem, not claiming to BE that anthem. “Whosoever Will May Come” is a fun track featuring Logan Smith that has a familiar quality despite being a new song. “I Know It’s Mine” slows the pace and makes a claim to the promise of ultimate victory.

I’ve seen some complaints circulating about the over-use and reliance on orchestration recently. “Fear Get Out Of Here” is an example of orchestration being employed effectively to enhance the lyric as well as the vocal performance. The mid-tempo “Letters To Heaven” is a sentimental song about communicating with a loved one who has passed away. “He Still Does” describes God’s faithfulness in the present as well as the past. The soulful “Bring That Giant Down” was released several months ago as a single and is one of my favorite tracks on Anthem Of The Ages. “Only Jesus Saves” is a relaxed arrangement featuring Smith. The album concludes with three more tracks including the excellent cover of “I Just Came To Talk With You Lord.”

I have yet to be disappointed by an 11th Hour album. Anthem Of The Ages continues that tradition.

Kingdom Heirs
4 out of 5
Mac Powell
4.5 out of 5
Jim & Melissa Brady
3.5 out of 5
Hall Sisters
3 out of 5
11th Hour
4.5 out of 5

3.9

Good
3.9 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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1 Comment

  1. Reply November 01, 18:19 #1 Chuck

    I won’t go into a long narrative about why. (that’s a reviewer’s job). I’ll just say.. the best of the bunch:
    Mac Powell
    Jim and Melissa Brady
    The others are ok.. but I wouldn’t buy them.


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