CD Review: The Only Way (Greater Vision)
Greater Vision’s last mainline release, Never Alone, came out in 2008. Jason Waldroup was still with them when they started the recording process. They breathed a sigh of relief when the prospective Waldroup feature “He is Loved” was in the perfect key for new tenor Jacob Kitson’s voice!
Today, nearly three years later, Kitson has come and gone, and original tenor Chris Allman has returned. The Only Way shows that Allman’s return was clearly a home-run decision. He is one of a very small number of elite tenor singers in demand as a studio background vocalist. His vocal power shines with a roof-raising rendition of “I Know a Man Who Can,” yet he treats the debut single, the Rodney Griffin-penned “Like I Wish I’d Lived,” with an appropriately tender finesse.
Despite the significance of his vocal contributions, the biggest strength he brings is his songwriting. “Another Child’s Coming Home” is easily the project’s strongest song. His father’s heart and pastor’s heart propel a lush and exquisite lyric and rendition.
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Songs 1, 3, and 5 are the only fast songs, so several consecutive slow songs in the second half damper the project’s momentum. That said, audiences expect them to sing their recognizable fast hits, so they probably need these slow songs for their live programs. They are known for translating songs which might seem weak on a CD into effective live performance songs, and they will undoubtedly pull that off here.
Were it not for a historical goof, “No Longer Chained” would easily be the standout fast song. It tells the story of a Roman soldier coming home at night and telling his family about meeting Paul. There’s only one problem: Roman soldiers weren’t allowed to marry. This was partly because single men are often more fearless on the battlefield than married fathers, and partly an enlistment incentive. Once soldiers who were not Roman citizens had served out their terms of service, they could retire a citizen and then raise a family. Now we know that some soldiers had inappropriate relationships and illegitimate children during their service, but these were not legally recognized marriages. Today’s military/family paradigm was foreign to Roman culture.
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For over a decade, Greater Vision’s sound has been shaped and guided by master producer Lari Goss. On The Only Way, Gerald Wolfe takes a key producing role. Goss still offers string orchestrations.
Greater Vision has set an incredibly high bar for their projects; a five-star Greater Vision project would need to stand at least head and shoulders with the likes of Live at First Baptist Atlanta and Quartets. This isn’t quite that level, but it is a solid four-star project. As importantly, it is a step in the right direction: The Only Way is more than a breath of fresh air—it offers the the first puffs of what promises to be a second wind for the group.
Produced by: Gerald Wolfe and Lari Goss. • Group members: Chris Allman, Gerald Wolfe, Rodney Griffin. • Review copy provided. • Song list: He Didn’t When He Could Have Passed By; Safe Within His Hand; No Longer Chained; I Know a Man Who Can; He’s the Only Way; Like I Wish I’d Lived; But God; We Still Have to Pray; Eternity’s About to Begin; Heaven Can’t Be Far Away; Another Child’s Coming Home. • Average song rating: 3.6 stars. Album rating: 4 stars.