3:1: Reach Out (Karen Peck & New River)

3:1 highlights three strong points of an album and one area that could have been improved.

1. On the Banks of the Promised Land: This catchy tune deserves the high praise it’s received in other reviews. It’s not that it contains profound insights about Heaven that we haven’t heard in a half-dozen previous songs. Lyrically, it’s neither steak nor whipped cream. It’s apple pie—and thanks to a catchy tune and a great kick drum track, it’s a particularly tasty slice!

2. Broken Into Beautiful: Don’t let the uncanny musical resemblance to “Unredeemed” (Selah/Martins) distract you from what is easily the project’s most compelling lyric. The lyric is well conceived and carefully crafted. If Karen Peck was a new singer, this would be her signature song.

3. More than Ever: Other reviewers have called this Gaither Vocal Band cover subpar. I disagree. The Gaither Vocal Band cut it in 2000 on I Do Believe. But Karen takes ownership of the song and to the point that newcomers will assume it was written for a soprano. The rendition sounds like I Do Believe meets “Last Night”—and that’s hardly a bad thing.

:1. One thing I would change: More Jeff Hawes. Need I say more?

Well, need to or not, I will. (Twitter is for people who don’t think in complete sentences!) Susan Peck Jackson, Karen’s sister, seems content to be the quiet glue holding the blend together. But Jeff Hawes has great tone and control, and much as we all love Karen’s strong soprano voice, it wouldn’t hurt the album—or the group—if he had an equal share of solos.  

Traditional or Progressive?

Rather progressive.

SouthernGospelBlog.com’s Radio Single Picks

On The Banks of the Promised Land (current single); Broken Into Beautiful. Those two are head and shoulders above the others to the point that each would ideally stay long enough on the charts that a third single is unnecessary.

SouthernGospelBlog.com Ratings

Average song rating: 2.5 stars. Overall album rating: 3.5 stars—because where the album is strong, it’s really strong. In fact, the standout tracks are so good that one could argue the case that they raise the overall level to 4 stars.


Produced by: Wayne Haun• Group members: Karen Peck Gooch (soprano), Susan Peck Jackson (alto), Jeff Hawes (male harmony). • Review copy provided.  • Song list: Mighty Big God; On the Banks Of the Promised Land; Love With All Your Heart; Sustaining Grace; Good Things are Happening; This is What Mercy Does; More than Ever; Don’t Worry About the Waves; Faithful Love of Jesus; Broken Into Beautiful; Reach Out and Touch.

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18 Letters to the Editor

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  1. So, what did you think about the title track? Wait, don’t answer that. 🙂

    Again, I like this review. Agree on the top song. I also remember liking “Sustaining Grace” more than the others.

    • For me, it was a toss-up on whether to feature “More than Ever” or “Sustaining Grace” as #3. I thought others had captured the latter well enough by this point, that I should probably go with the former.

  2. Like, the quick, easy to read format. Two weeks into the 3:1 you’ve convinced me. It’s like a music review for those of us who just glance at these blog’s on our phones in between busy times.

    • Thanks! It actually takes quite a bit of work for me to be concise, but I’m warming to the challenge and really enjoying it!

  3. Finally we agree on everything under the sun. It took a Karen Peck project to do it.

    • Just out of curiosity – I can’t quite make out to what level you’re being serious vs. sarcastic here. (?) 🙂

      • I was being serious, maybe with some playful overtones.

      • OK!

  4. I didn’t comment one way or the other on “More Than Ever” when Steve and I did our review. I like the song and I like most of the versions I’ve heard including KP&NR’s.

    To me, though, it’s more of a space filler than a major highlight of the CD.

  5. I haven’t listened to this album yet, but i would agree with you about Jeff getting his share of the solos. I felt the same way about Devin when he was with the group. I don’t know if I can remember the last single from New River that didn’t feature Karen.

    • It sounds like at least Jeff and Devin aren’t/weren’t the “Charlotte Ritchie” of New River. 🙂

  6. I have not heard this Peck Project yet, but I am hoping for a stronger project song-wise this time. Last years project seemed to have to many weak message songs.
    “On The Banks of the Promised Land” is a great start for this new project.

  7. Oh, and I would also like to hear the other singer featured more also. Devin had some songs that were radio worthy, I am guessing Jeff does also.

  8. Actually – “This Is What Mercy Does” – a song that features Jeff – was just released to Soft AC/Insp radio. For what it’s worth…

  9. The common denominator between “Broken into Beautiful” and “Unredeemed” is Chad Cates; he was a co-writer on both songs.

    As for giving Jeff Hawes more solos, I think he can grow into a larger role, but I don’t think he’s there quite yet.

    “Sustaining Grace” is a great song because it says something important that is often missed on projects.

    Excellent, encouraging CD from start to finish!

    • JJ – on your first point, yes, but I was going for the common denominator between the former song and “On the Banks of the Promised Land.”

      I’m agreed that “Sustaining Grace” is great lyrically; I just didn’t have any observations that didn’t replicate what had already been covered well in several previous reviews.

  10. I downloaded “Good Things Are Happening.” I think that song is cute and happy!