3:1 CD Review: Live at Silver Dollar City (Dixie Echoes)
3:1 Reviews offer three highlights of an album and one area that could have been improved.
1: How Big is God. During Pat Barker’s time with the Dixie Echoes, “How Big is God” became his signature song. But much like Scott Fowler proved that the Cathedrals should keep singing “Champion of Love,” Mike Jennings proves that the Dixie Echoes should keep on singing “How Big is God.”
2: Plan of Salvation. While Jennings’ take on “How Big is God” must necessarily draw comparisons to the large shoes (or, rather, cowboy boots) left by his predecessor, his take on “Plan of Salvation” draws comparisons to the large shoes (or, rather cowboy boots) left by the greatest Southern Gospel bass singer of all time. Jennings’ take isn’t a carbon copy, but its power and warmth make it a standout moment. (Of course, I might be biased; see here and here.)
3: I’ll Have a New Life. Yes, the three strongest moments on the album have a common factor. Mike Jennings was a brilliant find. (New tenor Michael Helwig is also a great find, and he holds down his part more than capably; however, he has yet to find his signature song.)
:1: Volume on dialog: If you have the volume on your speakers set at 25% for the music, you’ll have to crank it past 75% to hear the dialog.
Random observation: Now that he’s in his thirties, Scoot Shelnut’s voice is also entering the maturity of middle age. It is sounding increasingly closer to his father’s.
Album Rating: 4 stars.
Lineup: Michael Helwig (tenor), Randy Shelnut Sr. (lead), Randy “Scoot” Shelnut Jr. (baritone), Mike Jennings (bass), Stewart Varnado (piano).
Credits: The digital version available on the Dixie Echoes’ site does not come with credits. However, it’s undoubtedly Stewart Varnado on the piano, Scoot Shelnut on bass, and Randy Shelnut Sr. on electric guitar. Review copy purchased.
Song List: Introduction by Duane Garren; I’ll Shake the Hand of the Lord; Close to the Master; Group Member Introductions; Come and Dine; Unworthy; Devil and His Old Suitcase; How Big is God; Until Then; Joshua Fit the Battle; When the Saints Go Marching In; Plan of Salvation; Crumbs From the Table; Hide Thou Me; I Am a Pilgrim; I’ll Have a New Life; How Great Thou Art.