3:1 CD Review: Sweet Hour of Prayer: Hymns of the Faith Vol. 2 (Blackwood Brothers)
1. Simplicity: If piano and four voices is your cup of tea, and not, as Gerald Wolfe likes to say, “all that racket,” this is your sort of hymn project. Side bonus: Now that the group has a full-time piano player, there is very little on this project which they couldn’t do live. (An organ does make an appearance on the final track.)
2. Sweet Hour of Prayer: Tenor Wayne Little and bass Randy Byrd trade off at the solo microphone. It’s one of Little’s most pleasant solos, and Byrd’s bass tones are as warm, rich, and confident as always.
3. Softly and Tenderly: A tasteful piano solo from Mike Hammontree is expertly woven into group and solo vocal segments. I have heard so many monotonous renditions of this hymn that I am tempted to hit the skip button when it comes up. This rendition makes me like the song again.
:1. One thing I would change: Song Selection: Yes, table projects need to have some of the hymns that everyone knows and requests. The project would have been stronger with several less ubiquitous hymns.
Traditional or Progressive?
Song Selection Creativity Meter: 30%
In place of radio single picks and an album rating, table projects featured in a 3:1 review are measured by a different metric—what percent of the songs on the album are pulled from outside of the 200 Most Frequently Recorded Southern Gospel songs.
Group members: Wayne Little (tenor), Jimmy Blackwood (lead), Billy Blackwood (baritone), Randy Byrd (bass), Mike Hammontree (pianist). • Produced by: Billy Blackwood. • Review copy provided. • Song list: I Need Thee Every Hour; Blessed Assurance; Cleanse Me (Search Me, O God); Sweet Hour of Prayer; My Jesus, I Love Thee; Softly and Tenderly; I Surrender All; What a Friend We Have in Jesus; Near the Cross; Fairest Lord Jesus.