3:1 Review: Angels on the Battlefield (Matt Felts)
3:1 Reviews offer three highlights of an album and one area that could have been improved.
1: Concept: As we discussed in March 2011, fans are increasingly buying just one or two songs from a project. One of the best ways to make a fan want to purchase the entire project is to tell a story with the project as a whole—to make it more than just a collection of ten random songs.
This project does just that—with one of the most unique concepts to come down the pike in several years. Matt Felts, Johnny Minick, Aaron Minick, and Mike Allen offer Southern Gospel vocal renditions of hymns popular during the Civil War with period instrumentation.
2: Instrumentation: Felts went to great lengths to provide instrumentation that is both authentic for its period and professionally done. He brought in a team of Nashville studio musicians, some of whom played on the acclaimed Gods and Generals soundtrack. The result is something that conveys a similar feel to what one might have heard around a Civil War-era campfire, but performed and recorded up to modern expectations of quality.
3: Battle Hymn of the Republic: All the vocal performances on the project are strong, but this one is the strongest. It’s so strong that, outside of its historical context, one might be tempted to think it was written with a Southern Gospel male quartet in mind.
:1 or +4?: Narrations: The narrations are necessary to give the project its distinctive concept-album feel.But if you are the sort who might play a new album several times during a day, you will probably find yourself skipping the narrations after a few times through.
Credits: Produced by: Johnny Minick, Matt Felts. Recorded at: The Sound Shop, Nashville, TN. Engineers: Ben Terry, Steve Chandler. Musicians: Ben Watkins (acoustic guitar, mandolin, fiddle), Mark Fain (bass), Harold Bradley (archtop guitar), Johnny Minick (accordion, percussion). Digital review copy provided.
Song List: Battle Hymn of the Republic; I Love to Tell the Story; Amazing Grace; Rock of Ages; Wayfaring Stranger; There is a Fountain; Star-Spangled Banner.