by James Hales | July 6, 2022 1:27 PM
With “We Promise You Gospel!”, the concrete was poured for the foundation of the Hinson’s sound, and it was securely set, as this is the first album that truly has a cohesive sound that is distinctively “Hinson”. Kenny has developed a natural singing style and is on his way to becoming the eye of every wannabe country gospel singer. He radiates a certain charisma that is contagious, and you can’t help but be taken in with each note sung. I am glad country music never was able to claim him and he stayed true to the gospel, though I am sure many offers came his way over the years, and some were probably seriously considered!
Their previous albums were filled with mostly cover songs by other groups, with only a handful of songs penned by either Ronny or Kenny. By this time, both brothers were growing as songwriters and this album featured some of their strongest material to date. That is something else that contributed to this being a more cohesive album in that half of the songs were penned by Ronny or Kenny, and the other half were older songs re-arranged to fit the Hinson’s style, and there were no true cover tunes on this album.
Unfortunately, there are no Production credits listed on the album. My assumption is the Goodman band is not playing on this album, and Rusty is not producing from the Goodman’s studio, as I do not hear as much of a Goodman influence here, and the Hinsons appear to have a sound that is more firmly rooted into a more country style. I wish they had included that info, because I would love to know who produced, who played, etc. My assumption is Nelson Parkerson was calling the shots, as he is listed as sole producer on their next album, as well as on most of their records for the remainder of the 70s.
The recording starts off with the up-tempo, electric guitar driven, “It’s Just About Time for Me to Lay Down my Cross and Go Home”, which features both Kenny and Yvonne and has that “Hinson” sound that we all love, before the tempo slows down as Ronny steps up to sing one of my all-time favorite songs that he wrote entitled, “House of a King”. I wish they had captured this song on one of their live albums as it’s a great, emotion-filled song and I would have loved to have heard them do it live. It’s also one I’d love to hear someone bring back and sing again, as I feel it’s worth giving it a refresh!
Kenny then steps up to sing the classic, “I Won’t Have to Cross Jordan Alone” before the group tears into the energetic, “The Upward Way”, which features Ronny and Larry, and features that classic Hinson sound. From the very first time I heard this album back in the early 90s, this instantly became one of my favorite songs; but I must declare that as much as I absolutely love this song, that dobro on the chorus is like nails on a chalkboard to me…the same note over and over and over again! But I digress…
“Heaven’s Best”, written by Ronny and sung by Kenny closes out side one. This medium tempo, steel guitar driven song fits the group like a glove and is an excellent song of encouragement for the saints to keep moving towards the prize awaiting us!
At this point in time, the Happy Goodman Family were crisscrossing the country blowing everyone off the stage, and the charts, with Ronny’s songs, “The Lighthouse” and “He Pilots my Ship”. Side two starts out with the first big hit for the group that was solely their own, “Ain’t That What It’s All About”, which features Kenny and Yvonne. Written by Kenny, it had all the right elements making it such a great song…great lyrics, great vocals and delivery and it features that true Hinson sound. The song would spend about 10 months in the Singing News Top 20 between 1974 and 1975, peaking in September 1974 at #6. The song enjoyed a bit of a revival back in 2006, as Gold City did a killer remake of the song, as did Mike Bowling on his “Influenced & Inspired: Remembering Kenny Hinson” recording.
The tempo picks up for convention feel of, “There’s Just One Way”, which features everybody at some point in the song, and features some really nice guitar work before the tempo slows down as Kenny turns in a masterful performance on another great Ronny Hinson tune, “Day of Mercy”.
Yvonne steps back up to sing the mellow, “Make Room in the Lifeboat” (the only song that she doesn’t share solo duties with anyone else), before the Hinsons tear into the campmeeting favorite, “King Jesus Will Roll My Burdens Away”. The Goodmans eventually would pick this song up for their 1975 album, “Covered in Warmth”, but I still consider this to be a “Hinson” song.
This album, from beginning to end, is truly an enjoyable listen. The group sounds great, it’s nicely paced, and I think it’s truly their best recorded effort during this era. I have a love and a fascination with listening to and studying the evolution of a group’s sound. It’s always neat hearing how the sound of a group or artist progresses and changes over time. Listening to the Hinsons between 1970 and 1973…in 3 short years…they have grown tremendously as singers, musicians and songwriters and they are evolving into true artists in every sense of the word!
With “We Promise You Gospel!”, the Hinsons were really blossoming here, and they showcase some excellent future potential on this record as well, both with singing and in their songs. But changes were coming for the group that would affect their sound. Whereas some groups would have struggled to recover, these changes ended up being positive ones for the group, and they ended up propelling the group higher and higher. Even more exciting days were ahead…so stay tuned, it’s about to get real good!!
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