CD Review: Turning Point (Cross 4 Crowns)

Rating: 5 stars (of 5)

Average Song Rating: 4.2 stars (of 5)

Song List: I Will Trade The Old Cross For a Crown; Things That I’m Seeing; Greater Miracle; I’m Going There; He’ll Never Forsake; I’ll See You Home; Tell Me Who; Whenever, Wherever, Whatever; Take a Little Look; Celebrating Resurrection Morning; Hallelujah For the Cross.

* * *

Cross 4 Crowns was formed by baritone Allen Leath in 2003 and toured regionally for two years before making the decision to try to go national in September 2005. Some of their first major attention on a national level came when former Dixie Echoes tenor Dallas Rogers joined the group, a story I broke this March. (Rogers had also performed with the Journeymen Quartet, Heirline, and the Toney Brothers.) Other group members are lead singer Davey McCammon and bass singer Justin Terry.

The group signed with Crossroads Music in May; Turning Point is their major-label debut. It is an impressive project, period, and for a debut…let’s just say it’s the most impressive debut in recent memory. Arthur Rice produced the album; his touch is evident in the group’s arrangements and harmonies, which give the group a sound closer to the Kingdom Heirs than any other group.

While several of the tracks on the project were previously recorded, the opening track (“I Will Trade The Old Cross for a Crown”) is probably the only song instantly familiar to enough Southern Gospel fans to be labeled a “classic.” Most of the other previously recorded songs would be more towards being classified “forgotten gems.”

“I Will Trade The Old Cross for a Crown” makes a good choice for an opening track, introducing the group’s sound. It also emphasizes their group name (Cross 4 Crowns…get it?) This rendition is slower than normal but brings out the group’s solid harmonies.

The group is at its strongest on convention-style quartet songs, and the project has several: “Things That I’m Seeing,” “I’m Going There,” “Take a Little Look,” and “Tell Me Who.” “Things that I’m Seeing” is a song the Kingsmen recorded over three decades ago (in 1976, on It Made News In Heaven). After hearing Cross 4 Crowns’ catchy rendition, it seems surprising that there have been (to my knowledge) no other renditions of the song since its debut.

“I’m Going There” is a song the group has apparently already sent to radio; it provides opportunities for several group members to take solos.

Squire Parsons’ “Take a Little Look” provides another opportunity for bass singer Justin Terry to shine. He has a surprisingly mature voice for being (according to the web bio) only 24 years old. His voice sounds somewhat like Glenn Dustin’s, with (perhaps thanks again to Arthur Rice) some Jeff Chapman-style phrasings also in evidence. His range is quite low; he hits low A several times on “Things that I’m Seeing,” a low G or two on “Take a Little Look,” and several confident low F-sharps on “I’m Going There.”

Terry and Dallas Rogers are probably the two strongest vocal talents in the group. Unfortunately, Dallas Rogers only gets one feature, “I’ll See You Home.” The song appears to have been added at the last minute; the final project has eleven songs, while the pre-release on the group’s website listed ten, omitting this one. [EDIT, 11/8/10: The link is broken and has been removed.]

The project has several other good mid-tempo songs and ballads, such as “Hallelujah For the Cross” and “Whenever, Wherever, Whatever.” Buy on this project, it’s the convention songs most likely to get audiences to their feet.

Care is evident in this project. The mixing and mastering is impeccable. The harmonies are arranged well. Bottom line: Vocally, musically, and lyrically, this project shines.

My working rating on the draft was 4.5 stars. It’s pretty unheard of for a reviewer serious about ratings to give a group’s debut project five stars. But this project kept drawing me back again and again; by the time I got to the project’s tenth spin in a week, I decided it was worth that fifth star. Fans of Kindgom Heirs-style quartet singing should love this group.

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21 Letters to the Editor

Southern Gospel Journal welcomes letters to the editor. We will post the most thoughtful and insightful submissions. Ground rules: Don't attack or belittle groups or fellow posters, or advance heresies rejected by orthodox Christianity. Do keep comments positive, constructive, and on topic.
  1. I completely agree with your rating. This project is a pleasant surprise from a new group.

  2. {Note to commenters: Yes, I deleted a comment. This isn’t Averyfineline, folks.}

  3. Ok. Lets try this at a different approach. Lets all keep in mind that its the live performance that really counts. CD projects can be processed. Their cd sounds wonderful, but all groups should strive to match on stage what they sing on cd. Matching pitches and synchronizing the vocals are very important. Best wishes to these guys.

  4. Judging from the sound clips, I believe this recording hardly warrants 4 stars. What songs on there truly distinguish Cross 4 Crowns from say, the Kingdom Heirs? What distinguishes them from Gold City? What distinguishes them from much any groups in this business? Not much anything. Singing is fine, production is good, just nothing on there really memorable or identifiable. 3.5 to 4 stars better fits this recording in my opinion.

  5. When I first heard these guys I thought it was the KH until I listened a little closer. Being a KH fan I really like these guys. Wish them the best!

  6. Not that I actually have the money to buy this right now, but I tried the CBD link and it’s not working for me … not sure why, but I thought I’d let you know.

    You guys have definitely got my attention on the review. The title song is one I really like, and I don’t think I have any versions of it except a non-digitized Vestal Goodman one.

  7. Amy–try the link now. I think it’s fixed. (At any rate, it is for me.)

  8. #4—We’re each entitled to our opinion, but if this group is so good that a casual listener can’t tell them apart from the Kingdom Heirs or Gold City, I’d have to say the group is pretty good. 🙂

  9. Working now! Thanks! That’s a good price … 😉

  10. CBD usually has good prices—that’s why I throw theirs in, too.

  11. Good review, great CD. I got my pre-release copy from the guys before the ink was even dry. (seriously I smeared it!) I was fortunate enough to be there on the first night that Dallas Rogers sang with them (btw.. I actually broke that bit of news first on my blog.) They sound VERY good live. If you have never heard them in person, you should do yourself a favor and visit one of their concerts.

  12. I haven’t heard the project in it’s entierity, I have only heard the song “I’m Going There” on radio. But that cut seems a bit, for lack of a better term, it seems too………mechanical: computerized. Or perhaps saying overprocessed would be better.
    I like the song and the group, but in my ears the mix lacks that ellusive “something” that would make this a 5 star project.
    But as I said before, I haven’t heard the whole CD. And every set of ears hears differently. So to each his own opinion.

  13. Well, do listen to the whole CD sometime. 🙂

  14. This is in no way a slam or derogatory comment, but a studio engineering fact. When one is tuning a singer’s vocal, and the vocalist has a pitch problem, the engineer will need to tune the pitch a tad bit harder to the center of the note, or even perhaps move the note the singer recorded to the correct note that should have been sung. Melodyne, Autotune, and Waves’ Tune are great products to correct pitch and notes, but when you listen to a cd and notice that the vocals are very mechanical, and over-processed, it generally means that the vocalists have some major pitch problems. Now it is common to listen to a cd and hear the occasional grab or pull of a note that is being sung, but to hear it on every song, where it is constant, which is the case for this project that has been reviewed, should be a sign to the engineer and producer to have the vocalist correct the issue either by re-singing their parts, or by going to a vocal teacher to learn how to sing on pitch, and to fix their intonation problems. As I stated before about this group, they are a great regional group, but they don’t, at this time, possess the vocal talents to take it to the next level. An over-tuned project won’t help much either. Please take this as advice and not as a bad or hurtful comment.

  15. …or…

    There is one other alternative. It could also mean that they could only afford enough studio time for one or two takes. (Or, whatever the amount, too few.)

  16. I have been around and listening to southern gospel music for quite a few years. I’ve had the opportunity to record, but mostly I’m a fan. I’ve heard everyone from Gold City to Kingdom Heirs to Brian Free & Assurance and almost everyone in between. And there is one common factor: NO ONE sounds live like they do on their CD. I’ve heard Brian Free make my ears bleed. I’ve heard Jason Waldroup flat as a board. I’ve heard Mike Bowling make me go…HUH!!? Groups put ALOT of time in the studio for a reason. I’ve heard groups live with stacks that will part your hair. The next group that sounds as good live as their cd will be the first one! I HAVE heard Cross 4 Crowns live and they are better than most at matching CD quality. I was looking at their schedule, and based on some of the concerts coming up, apparently a few others think they sound pretty good as well. A promoter won’t put a group that can’t sing with groups such as The Hoppers, or Triumphant. If y’all are looking for a group that sounds just like their CD on stage (without over db’d stacks), please let me know; I’d like to go hear’m!

  17. Jeff: Did they pay you cash, or with check? Just kidding. Lets just say that time and talent will say who lasts and doesn’t in the business.

  18. #17 – One other factor is huge, just as much as talent if not more, and that’s persistence. Some great talents never realized their potential since they left the road too soon.

    By the way, how many times have you heard Cross 4 Crowns? There is a chance you just heard them on an off night, when perhaps their speakers were acting strange. I’ve heard groups on off nights before, and it isn’t pretty, but then I hear them at another time and I’m amazed at the difference.

  19. Insider…I only take cash!! lol. No, really, I’m not saying Cross 4 Crowns is the next Cathedrals, or anything like that. But this industry does indeed need some new blood, and these guys are very solid. Not anything groundbreaking by any means, but very, very good music. Stage presence is good. Comedically entertaining as well. I read your comments back in the spring about them at GMT. If that is the only time you’ve heard them, and that is what you are basing all of your opinion on, then you are short-changing your own critiquing ability. That was over a year ago.

  20. I think what a group does depends on how faithful they are to God. InSider, it sounds like you are making this industry a little to cut-throat for my taste. If these guys are doing what God has called them to do, then he will handle the rest, and what you or I say can either edify them and their ministry, or tear it down. Remember, we are a Christian industry when you are making comments about a ministry.

  21. One other thing. For all of you that have read Insider’s derogatory comments about this group. Let’s forget about them. I have done my research, and to my knowledge he/she has not made comments about any other group. Kind of makes you think Insider just has a problem with this group, and that has nothing to do with their vocal abilities and/or their ministry. Sounds like someone needs to let go and let God!!! Just a thought.


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