CD Review: Not Alone (Greater Vision)
Average Song Rating: 3.5 (of 5)
Producer: Lari Goss.
Song List: I Want To Know That You Know; You Were Faithful Yesterday; Meet Him At Calvary; It Pays to Pray; Share It With Jesus; He is Loved; I’ve Been to the Bottom; Born to Serve the Lord; The Source of My Song; You’re Not Forsaken.
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Virtually all groups care about both the lyrics and the music of their songs. But close observation of group’s song and arrangement choices suggests that some groups (Signature Sound, Gaither Vocal Band) focus particularly on how a song works musically, while others (Perrys, Inspirations) focus particularly on how it works lyrically. Lyrically dominant groups will occasionally select a lyrically strong song that might not be as musically memorable, and vice versa for musically dominant groups.
Greater Vision’s appeal to their dedicated fan base is partially explained in light of the fact that they are a lyrically dominant group and tend to attract lyrically dominant fans. That is to say, if they release an album with several lyrically strong songs, they can get away with realising an album that (like Not Alone) has only one fast song (“I Want You to Know That You Know”) and only one big ballad (“You’re Not Forsaken”). The rest of the songs on the project are recorded at slow or medium tempo.
The concept of lyrically dominant song selection is well illustrated by two of the songs on the project, “He is Loved” and “It Pays to Pray.” On first listen, a casual listener might think the tracks were among the weakest on the CD. But a careful listener particularly attuned to unique lyric ideas would be grabbed by the message of “He is Loved.” Word is that “It Pays to Pray” is getting some of the strongest responses that any of the songs on the project are getting before live audiences. The story behind the song—how Rodney Griffin wrote it about his father-in-law’s conversion two months before his father-in-law finally softened to the Gospel and came into the Kingdom—connects with audiences and perhaps leaves them more receptive to the song. But the appeal of both songs is predominantly in their lyrics.
This is Jacob Kitson’s first recording with the group; he is featured on three songs, “You Were Faithful Yesterday,” “He is Loved,” and “The Source of My Song.” He does well on all three, and “He is Loved” seems to do particularly well at bringing out some nice tones in his voice. This is despite the fact that the tracks were actually recorded before Jason was hired. (Thus, Kitson’s second project with the group will be the first to feature songs picked for his voice.)
Though Not Alone has several songs that should do well on radio, and several that should go over well in live concerts, the project is unlikely to turn the world of Southern Gospel upside down. But Greater Vision doesn’t need such a project; they have several concert programs’ worth of hit songs and favorites that didn’t get sent to radio. All they need is a song or two for radio, and enough good new material to keep their concert programs from getting stale. Not Alone hits that mark.