CD Review: Sunday Shoes (Chris Golden)

Chris Golden has grown up around Southern Gospel; he played piano for the Telestials in his teens. He is the drummer for the Oak Ridge boys and brother to noted Southern Gospel / Country songwriter Rusty Golden. He has dreamed of doing a solo Southern Gospel project for years; this is the result.

Interestingly, he recorded most of the instrumentals himself. Most were recorded on the roadβ€”on concert stages and in hotel rooms.

Several tracks will be familiar to Southern Gospel audiences; four were co-written by Golden’s brother Rusty Golden. Two are already familiarβ€””Gospel Road” (Kingsmen) and “I Want to Thank You” (Karen Peck & New River). Two are newβ€””A Different Light” and “Sunday Shoes.” Both of the two new cuts are by Rusty Golden and Dianne Wilkinson. Chris and Darrell Freeman join as guest vocalists on “A Different Light.”

Golden and Wilkinson have written enough hits together that it would be far from surprising to see these two cut and charting by a Southern Gospel artist at some point. The chance to hear them here first would be one of the album’s strongest selling points to a Southern Gospel fan who wouldn’t necessarily purchase it on the Oak Ridge Boys connection alone.

Review copy provided.

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62 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. So, what did you think of the album, from a reviewing standpoint??

    • I wondered that too.

    • I was intrigued by the fact that Golden played practically everything himself; not many drummers have his level of versatility.

      • I’m talking overall quality. What did you think of the song selection, content, etc.? Normally, your reviews include much more information along these lines, but you seem to simply offer a brief description and leave it at that…

      • As a reviewer, I think it is fair to focus on the aspects I find (a) most impressive and (b) most interesting.

      • You’re dodging the question….

      • Perhaps I am, in one sense. I’m talking about the aspects of the album that I prefer and choose to talk about, which might not entirely align with the aspects of the album that you would prefer I talked about. πŸ™‚

      • So, you didn’t like it?

      • My thoughts on virtually any album are far too complex to distill to a simple like/dislike answer.

        There were things about this project which I enjoyed. I have enjoyed some projects less, and many projects more.

        If you want me to be even more specific: I would enjoy this project more than about 95% of what has come out of CCM for the last ten years. But on the flip side, since I love power vocal harmonies, I would enjoy most quartet and male trio projects more than this one.

        But then, I could say that of most Southern Gospel solo albums. As a general rule, a Chris Golden Quartet project would perk my ears a little more than a Chris Golden solo release.

      • A difficult thing to do as a reviewer is to ignore one’s preferences for style, type of music etc. and review on the quality of songs, performances, production etc. While some standards go across all or most styles, others are more genre specific.

      • Well, there you have nailed it – that is why I did what I did. I intentionally set aside my preferences for group harmony, and several other preferences, to focus on the project’s strengths.

      • I haven’t heard the project yet, but I would presume there are more strengths than noted so far. I would presume the performances are well-done, and looking at some of the songs I am familiar with, I would think song-selection might be one. The Golden boys are so talented. It doesn’t quite seem fair that they can do so much musically so well.

      • So are you (and Kyle) basically saying that I didn’t find enough nice things to say about it? πŸ™‚

      • I want you to review honestly, of course, and opinions vary, but this review is much shorter than every other review I have read here. You said you mentioned its strengths in spite of your style preferences, but I at least would think there are other good things that could have been mentioned. If you don’t agree with our assessment (mine being knowing their skill, not this project), fine of course. But the review as a whole (even possibly including your adding things on) seem to fall short of any I recall here. This is more in line with a few of David’s that are so poor or give him so little info that he does quickies (or at times lack of time). Otherwise, he generally puts his preferences aside and writes longer reviews.

      • I answered your comment right before you made it. See below. πŸ™‚

        One specific reply: You might not have read them, but I do reviews of this length reasonably often. Here are two of the most recent reviews on this site:

        Going back a tad farther, to last winter:

        I think that saying this is shorter than anything else I write is either a misrepresentation or, I trust, an honest mistake.

        As I said in the comment below, if the readers here express strong preferences against shorter reviews, I would only have time to review top-tier project, and this sort of project would not get reviewed at all.

        Just so you know what I have on my plate, besides the posts here this week, I also had my day job, two book reviews to write for The Biblical Bookshelf, a fairly complex website I’m building for a side client, intense planning and conversations with a co-author for an upcoming book project, and contract negotiations on an entirely separate writing project. Oh – and I’ve been spending practically every waking hour looking for a car, too, since mine fell apart last Sunday.

        I know I’m forgetting a few major things in that list, but that should give you a feel of what my life is like right now. I’m amazed I found the time for even this much… πŸ™‚

      • I had to run (in fact I was a few minutes late after writing what I did write), so I didn’t get as detailed as I would have liked.

        I do hope you know me well enough to know I wouldn’t knowingly misrepresent. I admit I probably don’t read nearly every review here, but you notice I said “but this review is much shorter than every other review I have read here” (notice the words “I have read”. I do know that it seems that the ones I have read have had much more detail and the original review above had less detail than most press releases. Granted, you have had a lot on your plate. However, I think Kyle and I are also used to having to defend the Oaks and their band because they DO get mistreated by many in the SG industry. I am unsure if this is hard feelings because they no longer make their living in SG, jealousy, a feeling of superiority (much like the Pharisees), or what. I have no problems with people giving them honest and fair criticism or them not being their cup of tea. I just want them to give them a fair shake and rate their material honestly. Truth be told, there are some Oak’s songs or performances I don’t care for and I am a huge fan. I am not a yes man though. πŸ˜€

      • I’m glad to know that it was an honest mistake, and I’ll accept that.

        Yes, it did occur to me that even the fact that I post similarly brief (or briefer!) reviews frequently doesn’t necessarily mean that you have seen them. However, they’re still there.

        I’m about as burnt out with the discussions here whenever there is an Oak Ridge Boys connection as you are, so it’s mutual. πŸ™‚ (And this time was without me saying anything critical!) So to keep the peace, I’ll stop mentioning anything involving them for the time being. It’s just not worth the stress of a fight; far better to leave just one group – that isn’t presently doing any touring on the Southern Gospel circuit – undiscussed, than for the atmosphere around here to become combative every time they are mentioned.

      • Well, we don’t know each other that well, but I would have thought you knew me that well.

        Let me assure you that I don’t play that way. First of all, it is dishonest and the Bible says not to lie. Second of all, I am of the belief if I am right, my point will stand on its own (or with my debating and defending it. If I am unable to defend it properly, someone else needs to. To manipulate or lie to win is not winning at least not except by cheating and then it is only an appearance of winning to those who don’t know any better.

        I despise someone twisting the truth because it might make their position seem stronger. Do it right or don’t do it. Let someone lay it all out and present the facts and let people decide for themselves. Sometimes those who claim Christ or even those who defend His proper beliefs might do this to try to win. Even if I agree with their stance, I disagree with playing dirty ball to try to win.

      • Great; you were one of the last people I would have expected to be less than forthcoming, indeed – though I have known people to do odd things they never do at other times when the Oaks are under discussion! Thank you for the assurances, and I’ll keep them in mind should any potential for misunderstandings arise in the future – which I hope never happens, but that’s life!

      • Thanks, I have my faults, but that isn’t one of them. There is no argument worth winning that requires going against God.

      • Agreed!

    • HAHA! I think Daniel needs to edit the article.

      • Uh-oh – is there a blooper I am missing?

      • No. Sorry. Just seeing if Kyle could persuade you to add some more info. I was intrigued, and then I wasn’t intrigued anymore. The transition was so quick.

      • Oh, OK! πŸ™‚

  2. I would say it was impossible to know what you thought. A review should tell us what YOU think. The benefit of reading many reviews is to get a sample of opinions.
    This review tells us nothing of the style of his voice (tenor, baritone ect) quality of singing, production.

    • Interesting point.

      The review actually does reflect my thoughts; everything there is either my thought about the CD, or a fact I thought was particularly noteworthy.

      This is actually a decent summary of what I thought about the project. I pointed out what I thought were its high points. Past that, frankly, I didn’t think about it as much as I would think about a release by a major, top-tier artist (e.g., GVB, Triumphant, Booth Brothers, EHSS).

      Let me put it another way so all you Oaks fans commenting and lurking don’t get defensive. This project isn’t a top-tier project *in the Southern Gospel genre* just because the Oaks’ drummer recorded it, any more than a solo project by Kingdom Heirs drummer Dennis Murphy would be a top-tier project.

      To my knowledge, Chris Golden has few or no plans to stage this album at any Southern Gospel concert venues, and I have heard of no plans for radio singles. So it has only a small fraction of the relevance *to this genre* than projects by top-tier groups that will be staged at major venues across the country, will appear on Southern Gospel radio, etc.

      Remember: I could say the exact same thing about a Dennis Murphy solo record, or a record by the Isaacs’ percussionist. This isn’t about the Oaks.

      There is one other factor. My CD review policy clearly states that if you want to be certain of a review, email first to ask. (Of course, this doesn’t apply to existing relationships where a top-tier group knows I review their new release each cycle.) This CD was sent without any prior communication. I sometimes don’t even review such CDs at all, especially where there is very little relevance to the genre.

      In this case, despite all the factors against this being relevant enough to deserve a full-day feature on a Southern Gospel news website, I’d do it because Chris’s brother Rusty had done an interview here in the past and he had a couple of new cuts on the project.

      If I get enough complaints about mini-CD reviews to give the sense that the community here does not appreciate them, then future CDs not deserving of top-tier treatment will not be reviewed at all.

      • I’m a regular reader, and I was perfectly fine with the review. In fact, I think I understood your opinions, expressed and unexpressed, on the first reading. My opinion is that this got your standard treatment, and if people like DBM’s treatment better, that’s what they should read. I’m not trying to say that in a way that sounds smart-aleck, but I come here to hear what you have to say. I think you said it.

  3. I was under the impression that most of the reviews you do on Fridays are of this variety…quick little ones. Doesn’t seem abnormal to me.

  4. daniel

    I am not really an oaks fan at all. I don’t know much about their music. My point is there is little to say if it is worth my time. A simple 3 star, 4 star or a , b , c grade would help. You were so vauge about wheter you enjoyed it , I would not be compelled to buy it. Or maybe that was your point.

    Regardless of whether it is top tier artists or newbies, the review should tell us what YOU think of its quality, enjoyment and commercial appeal. Those 3 areas may not recieve high marks from you by the way. You may enjoy it but know it won’t be heard by many.

    The length is not the issue. We read your reviews because we want to know whay YOU think. Ok….now I’ve wasted enough time on a CD I will never hear! πŸ™‚

    • Maybe that was my point. πŸ™‚

      Well, I think I’ve made it pretty clear what I think, by this point: It’s a decent CD, but I, for one, won’t be playing it anywhere near as often as CDs by top-tier Southern Gospel groups.

  5. More broadly, I do not see my role as a CD reviewer as being to tell you whether I personally like a CD. Of course, my musical preferences will play a role in what impresses me; however, my role as a CD reviewer is to give an accurate, factual description – so that you can decide whether you’d like it.

    If you’re eager to hear future hits from Rusty Golden’s pen, then go for it. If you buy anything just because it has some Oak Ridge Boys connection, then it will be your cup of tea. Those were, I thought, the two defining pertinent characteristics of the CD. What I gave here is really, in all likelihood, enough information to give most readers an idea of whether it’s a project they want to check out. And I think that would leave it as having met its purpose.

    I don’t need to state whether it’s something I will play again or not to tell you that.

    • Exactly. I agree with you. Since I rely on your site for most of my SG news now – I now know that such a CD came out. If I think it will interest me, I’ll look for more info elsewhere. (In this case, it doesn’t. In the case of the latest GV release, it does.)

  6. Daniel, I think you are mistaken about your role as a CD reviewer. The whole point of critiquing an album, at least from my point of view, is MOST DEFINITELY to give your own opinion. As a music critic, people obviously value your opinion (i.e. He knows what he’s talking about, so his opinion will help me make my own decision). This is the exact approach I take to reviewing a project.

    It seems to me, in this case, you are more afraid of offending someone with any negative comments than you are of giving an honest opinion of the project itself, regardless of its connections to the genre. A project should be judged on its own merit (or lack thereof, as the case may be).

    For you to come out and say “My CD review policy clearly states that if you want to be certain of a review, email first to ask. (Of course, this doesn’t apply to existing relationships where a top-tier group knows I review their new release each cycle.),” you are blatantly showing favoritism in your reviews, which to me, shows an inability to be subjective.

    I know that you strive to represent a POSITIVE atmosphere here (most likely stemming from the constant negative feedback found on other sites), but there are times where it is OK to offer a negative review of something if you feel it is deserved. We are mature human beings here, and we can handle non-personal negativity if it is warranted.

    • You stated: “For you to come out and say My CD review policy clearly states that if you want to be certain of a review, email first to ask. (Of course, this doesn’t apply to existing relationships where a top-tier group knows I review their new release each cycle.),’ you are blatantly showing favoritism in your reviews, which to me, shows an inability to be subjective.”

      I could not disagree more. It is entirely reasonable to tell a group that, if they want to be sure of a review, to ask if it would be reviewed before sending a review copy.

      Regularly reviewing top-tier projects isn’t favoritism, at all. It’s based on an objective assessment that a group is top-tier – and the fact that I review a project doesn’t guarantee that the review will be positive (or as positive as the last one.)

      Maybe your readers want your opinion; good for you. Go for it, and give it to them. I believe that my readers, as a whole, want accurate, factual descriptions, with as much interesting / pertinent commentary and as little editorializing as possible.

  7. daniel,

    I agree with kyle in that we read your reviews because we want to know what YOUR personal opinion is. That IS the point of reviews. That is why I would never take just one review as doctrine. By reading many reviews and getting those opinions we can get a broader perspective. Just a thought.

    This can be done without getting personal or demaning. “production quality was great, songwriting is average, packaging is cool , but i am not personally a fan of thru the nose singing and burping at the end of each track. Fans of this sort of music will love it though!” lol

  8. Daniel I like your reviews, but this one looks more like an announcement than a review. If you have put this much effort in responding to the comments, you can put more effort in reviewing.

    Yesterday’s concert review was so detailed that I could picture how good the concert was. You have informed us of the new CD but you haven’t reviewed it. That is how I feel. Be not offended by my comment. My sincere apologies in advance. πŸ˜€

  9. Well, I’ll just say I enjoy your posts, Daniel. I don’t feel the need to go on your blog, or anyone else’s, and tell them what they’re doing wrong. You’ve got by far the biggest readership for a reason…you’re doing it the right way.

    • Now, I don’t read every comment here I am sure and maybe not even every entry, but I think I generally read at least some here every day. Now, there are things I would do differently as there would be for Daniel if I had a blog and he visited. I don’t expect this place to be exactly the way I would do it. In fact, I visit many of the SG blogs. Some I like better than others, but each one is a bit different than the others.

      With that said, I don’t think as “customers” in a sense we are out of line for voicing our opinions. In fact, if opinions weren’t allowed or encouraged here, then why even have a comments section? Granted in this case we are giving opinions based on the review which includes the writer, but I don’t think we are being bossy or mean. I just think we are disagreeing with the approach on this in comparison to what we have seen on at least some of the others.

      I agree that this isn’t going to be as popular as one from the GVB, EHSS, or for that matter many other SG groups including the Oaks for that matter. I understand wanting to review more thoroughly material that a larger readership will be interested in. I get that. In some ways though, those have their own fans who already know about the stuff and quality of their material. Nonetheless, I get it.

      However, I still feel that the initial review in particular lacked some info that one would think is real basic stuff in even a quick review. One was left more with his background and how it relates to the Oaks and Rusty than the CD itself and quality thereof. But maybe that was me. I just felt like stuff was missing after I read it. I felt that it really didn’t give pertinent info or feelings and that isn’t because it is Oaks related (granted I read it due to that, but I also read reviews for others artists I like but not always those about artists I am unfamiliar with or don’t like (which I would read under other circumstances especially if I were looking to buy other CDs. As it is there are more to buy than I should already. :D)

      • You’re allowed to voice your opinion, to a point – though, strictly speaking, I should have said that this has gotten off-topic enough that it should have gone to an open thread fifteen comments ago.

        I will take the advice to mind and do less in the way of reviewing a project where there simply aren’t hours in the day for a GVB-level treatment. (And I doubt anyone here would say that this project deserved a GVB-level treatment!) So that just means that, in the future, this project would have received no mention instead of this brief one. But if you’re happier that way, my life is easier that way… πŸ™‚

      • Follow me a little. The CD is titled “Sunday Shoes”. Usually open threads are the newest threads on Sundays here I think. So, one could argue that this is an open thread. πŸ˜‰

        I don’t feel that anyone here has been combative, do you? As far as commenting getting off topic, there wasn’t a lot in the review on the CD on which to comment. πŸ˜‰

        I don’t feel that not doing these is better than doing what you did. But, of course it is your decision. I do feel that some valid points have been brought up and are probably the other times that the Oaks are mentioned because I maintain there seems to be a difference. It would be interesting in doing a post on tastes, because let me assure you Kyle and I, David and I etc. have different tastes not just in Oaks music, but Cathedrals. I think the Oaks Elvira isn’t even probably in the top half of their songs and Kyle thinks it is the best song ever. I think their American Dreams CD is a near perfect CD and Kyle doesn’t care for it a lot. I am not a big fan of the Cathedrals Radio Days CD, and David loves it. I could go on and on. I haven’t gotten into fights with either and consider them both friends.

      • In much the same way, some Cathedral fans prefer the original lineup, others the Funderburk days, and others the Haase days. (Those seem to be the three biggest camps right now.)

        Yes, I can disagree on this point and remain friends with you and the others – though I wasn’t trying to disagree, since I was indeed trying to find nice things to say about it πŸ™‚ – however, I’m inclined to take a few months’ break from disagreeing on anything Oaks-related.

      • I understand wanting a little breather for sure. Oh, and although I know it is true, it is hard to believe that everyone doesn’t realize the Funderburk / Trammell days are the best followed in order by each succeeding combination. πŸ˜‰

      • I’ll admit that they had the most consistently strong song selection of any Cathedrals era. πŸ™‚

        Of course, it was the final Cathedrals lineup that got me hooked on Southern Gospel. So I suppose I’ll probably always list them as my favorite lineup. But if it wasn’t for that, I’d actually name the late ’70s easy-on-the-ears-heavy-on-the-heart lineup as my favorite! πŸ™‚

      • By the way, I think many of us would have taken it better had you said although it was well-done or the quality was average, it wasn’t your cup of tea or even that you thought it was lacking and this is how (honestly) than just seemingly barely acknowledging it. I didn’t care for the Oaks Journey CD overall much as I recall (not a big fan of Bluegrass music although I admire the skill level there) whereas I believe David liked it and Dolly Parton said it was the best they had done. πŸ˜€

      • The really weird thing is that I don’t have a firm opinion as to the CD; it’s not like I was thinking, “This is a terrible CD; how do I hide that so the Oaks fans don’t jump on me?”

        And it’s also not like I was thinking, “This is an incredible CD, but how do I say that without my readers thinking I’ve gone over to the dark side? πŸ˜› ” πŸ™‚

        I just accepted it for what it is – a side project, almost a hobbyist’s work in a sense – and pointed out what I thought was interesting. I really didn’t have firm opinions as to it being good, or terrible, or somewhere in between.

      • A friend of mine loves the Easy on the Ears lineup the best (I think). That was the group when he discovered them. The latter group did have the advantage of not just being the last lineup, but were together for a long time which gave them time to gel together. I do like them and some songs they were better suited for as were previous incarnations of the group. Talley (at least until about an A above middle C) and Haase’s voices blended better in some ways as Funderburk was a power tenor with a soulful sound, but even when he blended better by changing his sound, it probably still stood out a bit more in that it was different. Now, I am talking the voices blending not blend necessarily as far as volume because each could do that if they chose.

      • So basically you thought it was an average CD with some strong points and some weak ones, huh? Maybe something that select people would like, others would like for what it is, and others not consider it a stand out one?

      • While I suppose that would be a fair statement, I honestly hadn’t thought through the CD to that length. It is definitely for some people and ot others, though – that’s fair to say.

  10. None of this was an “attack” on daniel! We just had a review of how he does reviews! Lol

  11. It seems the difference in attack and review is based upon which side of the attack/review you’re sitting.

  12. This CD has gotten more publicity today than it ever could have hoped for…
    :-). Daniel, if I ever send you a CD to review please do it EXACTLY like this review…I still can’t remember the guys name who put out the CD, but I almost want to hear it now because of all the talk. In fact, Ive already tried to find him on YouTube.

    • Good point! πŸ™‚

      • True. I check back several hours later and I want to hear this thing after the dialogue had expanded. This may have turned out to be your greatest post yet. Critiquing the critic may turn out to be a good thing for Chris Golden.

      • If this is my greatest post yet, then . . . OUCH! πŸ™‚

        I’d like to think of my interview with Dianne Wilkinson, or perhaps with Libbi Perry Stuffle, or maybe even my Inauguration Day 2009 post, as my greatest… πŸ™‚

      • Ok, that was mostly sarcasm. Or maybe the post I constructed for you? That may be my personal favorite. You do a good job Daniel. Even if I disagree with you every now and then, you are a very important asset to the world of Southern Gospel Music and I enjoy commenting.

      • But I can’t take credit for writing that one!

    • πŸ˜€ There are small clips on his website. I listened to a snippet or two before I went to work this morning.

  13. Daniel, thank you so much for taking the time to listen to the music, and for your honest opinions throughout this blog.

    About my history…..
    I want to let you know that long after my Telestial days and way before my stint as drummer for the Oak Ridge Boys, I was the lead singer in a group called The Goldens for 10 years…. along with my brother Rusty, and Greg Gordon, (who some will remember from the Imperials, Rambos, Oaks, & Downings). We recorded albums for Columbia Records/Epic/CBS Records and Capitol Records…had videos on CMT/TNN, concert appearances at every major festival and fair in the country, and over 30 appearances on live network television. I only played drums on the records, and only sang live. We always included gospel music in our shows. I cut my teeth on Southern Style Gospel music…and although not strictly southern gospel…’Sunday Shoes” is my first all gospel project, but it is my FIFTH solo album. (Same music / new message). The other albums may have been on ‘the dark side’ as you call it, but I am no less proud of them as I am this one. I have never made music that I wouldn’t play for my children or Momma. (check out my SHOEBOX video at www, I tell people I play drums for the Boys to feed my family and to help support my singing habit. I don’t take offense to you saying this project “isn’t top tier” (I love all the groups you mentioned)….BUT…when those other drummer/sidemen you referred to sign a couple of MAJOR label deals, and start working on their 6th solo project, THEN feel free to put me in the same boat with them. : )

    “Gospel Road’ is the new single from ‘Sunday Shoes’ and I have been so encouraged and overwhelmed at the response it has been getting at radio thus far, and consider it answered prayers. There will be more singles, and I do hope to be able to take this music on the road one of these days soon. If any of your readers would like to form their own opinion, they may hear samples on my website.

    Once again, I am thankful for your time and grateful for your support.

    Chris Golden

    • Chris,

      Thank you for your gracious response to the review, and for all the fascinating tidbits!

      I had – mistakenly – assumed that you wouldn’t be touring or singling anything from the album, and that had influenced the brevity of the review. Thank you for the clarifications!


      • Re-write!!!