CD Review: Give the World a Smile (Legacy Five)
We recently sat down with Sam, Jayme, and Caleb (ages 11, 9, and 7, respectively), our youngest Southern Gospel fans, to hear their thoughts on Legacy Five’s recent CD project, Give The World A Smile. Enjoy their candid opinions interspersed with Ben and Taylor’s “technical” review! -The Garms Family
Give The World A Smile was released in 2010 as Legacy Five’s latest table project, and is reminiscent of the Know So Salvation album. The 10 songs, which were suggested by readers of Legacy Five’s blog, will be recognized by most Southern Gospel listeners. The fact that the entire album was only accompanied by piano, drums, bass, and some strings is noteworthy; it has a very full sound that does not leave you wanting for anything. It comes somewhat as a relief when most albums gear toward over-the-top arrangements. Tim Parton’s production and arrangement style combined with Steve Mauldin’s orchestration produce a classic Legacy Five sound. Parton’s versatile, yet distinctive piano playing was a highlight throughout the album. It is also interesting to note that as this is Gus Gaches’ “first” (with the exception of the re-release of Just Stand) recording with Legacy Five, it is also Tim Parton’s final album with the quartet.
The CD opens up with the easy-going song, “I’d Like to Say It Again” written by Joel and LaBreeska Hemphill. “Bouncy and light, I’d say,” said Sam, age 11, commenting on the song. “It started out with a nice, quiet starting, and then it goes to the deep bass voice of Glenn Dustin, and it ends with beautiful harmony and everything else. I think it’s a really good song.” Glenn Dustin is featured in a recitation portion two-thirds of the way through the song, adding a unique touch not heard very often on many modern arrangements. “It was fun and enjoyable,” said seven-year old Caleb about the overall song.
Solid four-part harmonies abound in the well-known Otis Deaton and M.L. Yandell song, “Give the World a Smile”, and Legacy Five makes the title cut enjoyable for everyone. “It’s happy,” the Lil’ Adventurers (LAs, for short) said in unision, “and joyful,” added Caleb. Sam, Jayme, and Caleb were thrilled by Tim’s fancy seventh chords and arppegios as the song started. “It GETS you in suspense!” said Caleb while Jayme, age nine, exclaimed, “I like that first part!” Caleb sat on the edge of the couch, mesmerized while he listened intently to Glenn’s rumbling bass on the chorus. “I love that whole song; it’s a great song and has a great message, too.” Caleb remarked.
Legacy Five’s performance of the Diane Wilkinson classic, “Boundless Love”, was extremely well-received among the LAs; in fact, so much so that they insisted on listening to it at least three times during the CD review. They especially enjoyed Gus Gaches’ tenor parts throughout the song. “Whoa, that was awesome!” Sam exclaimed as Gus took off. “Gus is a great singer! We were all listening to him and shouting, “WHOA! Oh wow! He’s a great singer!” stated Caleb enthusiastically. If there was any former doubt about Legacy Five’s newest tenor, it should be dispelled at Sam, Jayme, and Caleb’s warm acceptance of him – they are pretty critical when it comes to favorites! When asked to compare Legacy Five’s remake to the Cathedrals well-known version of the song, Sam said, “Don’t even have us compare them.” “We can’t!” Jayme quickly added. She did offer this opinion though: “I love the Cathedrals’ version; they’re so good.”
“We Shall See Jesus”, one of Mrs. Wilkinson’s most timeless songs, takes a different twist from the Cathedrals familiar version, as Glenn Dustin’s emotion-filled bass is featured through the first two verses of the song. “Nice blend…soft blend into a smooth harmony…then the rich deep voice of Glenn Dustin. He’s going to hit a low note, listen! That was a LOW note!” said Caleb as the song began. 🙂 “Glenn’s voice fits the song,” affirmed Jayme. Scott Fowler’s powerful lead voice is then released on the last verse. Other than the previously mentioned departure, the structure and harmonies of the song are very reminscent of the Cathedrals rendition. “It gives you such a solemn feeling that fits the song perfectly,” said Sam. “Oh, I just love the message of that song! It gets you into a very sad feeling, [then] to the Easter-morning-happy-feeling. I love that song and it’s message,” sighed Caleb in awe. Tim Parton’s piano playing and Steve Mauldin’s string arrangements complement the song beautifully. “The soundtrack was perfect, the singers were perfect,” Sam said confidentally.
The old hymn, “Search Me, Oh God” by James Edwin Orr is a wonderful way to bring down the intensity of “We Shall See Jesus”. “I think they do a very good job. I love this song so much I’ve memorized the first verse and hope to memorize the rest,” stated Sam as he drank in the song. Glenn Dustin, baritone Scott Howard, and Scott Fowler are specifically featured as the background strings creates a smooth soundscape. The entire quartet ends with the final verse sung a cappella, a captivating ending for the song. Commenting on the a cappella, Caleb said, “I do like the a capella part. It has a very nice flow, a very nice blend, and a very nice sound to it.” Sam was slightly disappointed Gus did not have a featured verse, “No Gus? I love the a capella, but I miss Gus.”
L5 keeps the gentle, calm feeling going with Ralph Carmichael’s “Reach Out To Jesus”. Scott Howard’s distinct baritone voice carries the message strongly, encouraging you to keep reaching out to Jesus, for it’s Jesus who has reached out to you. “I think Scott Howard fit that song,” commented Jayme. The song also has some nice “candy coated” vocal arrangements by Tim Parton.
Speaking of vocal arrangements, “Headin’ Home” by Robert Prather brings out the bluesy side of Legacy Five, while at the same time revealing the first-class quartet they are, masterfully handling all their parts with power and zeal. “Quite the arrangement! Bouncy and jazzy,” was Sam’s opinion of the song. Special touches here and there made this a very snazzy rendition. The LAs especially enjoyed the “false” ending.
The album gears up with “I Always Have A Song To Sing,” written by Jerry Kelso. His writing style blends well with L5’s arrangement. Scott Fowler takes the lead (“I love Scott!” said Jayme as she listened to the song), and the rest of the quartet pack plenty of energy in their delivery.
Glenn Dustin draws you into “Livin’ On The Sunny Side” with the ability to sing right to you. It nicely features his higher range right along with his bass range. He then falls into a supporting roll, and Gus Gaches’ silky and airy tenor takes precedence. “It goes to lowest [voice] to the highest girly voice you could find!” laughed Sam. Scott Fowler and Scott Howard support both of these “freaks of nature” with the smoothness that comes with their experience.
And finally Roger Bennet’s “I’ve Read The Back Of The Book” closes out the album. “It’s perfect for the ending,” said Jayme quietly. Scott Fowler takes on the lead part as passionately as Roger would have done, and you can hear the joy that has really come upon these guys as the song builds into the final chorus.
Give The World A Smile is an enjoyable addition to anyone’s Legacy Five CD collection; the album’s familiar feel points to Legacy Five’s faithfulness to what they do. In no way did it seem as if L5 was going after spot-on emulations of the Cathedrals’ familiar songs; they did a great job of making them their own. Their smooth sound has matured to a polish of unbeatable gloss. Though it probably won’t produce any chart toppers or record singles, Give The World A Smile gives you just as it’s title says: a smile. As Caleb said, affirming this point, “It makes me just smile!”
– Submitted respectfully by Ben and Taylor Garms for the Garms Family