3:1 CD Review: Joy in the Storm (The Diplomats)
3:1 Reviews offer three highlights of an album and one area that could have been improved.
1: “Travelers Protected by Grace”: This anthem, penned by Kyla Rowland, is the project’s standout track. Alto Rita Pearson, who sings in a power chest voice style popularized by singers like Vestal Goodman and Libbi Perry Stuffle, nails the arrangement. Many of Rowland’s best lyrics ring with a resounding defiance to the Devil’s schemes. When you’re singing a lyric like that, a tentative or breathy delivery simply won’t tote the mail. The lyric demands vocal authority; Pearson delivers.
2: “I’ll Soon Be Gone”: This song has been done a number of times through the years. The Blackwood Brothers did the song fully convention-style with three-way counterpoint. The Happy Goodmans and several other groups sang a somewhat simplified two-part counterpoint. This arrangement is closer to the Freemans version, which has a bass step-out line or two, but no other counterpoint. Yet if you approach the song for what it is, without devoting undue attention to what it is not as compared to other renditions, it is still a great rendition of a great song.
3: “God Shall Wipe Away All Tears”: If you’re a fan of Southern Gospel bass singing, and you don’t know about Joseph Brown yet, you are in for a treat. He is one of the best bass singers that (far too close to) nobody knows about. He can bring a warmth reminiscent of Randy Byrd to his upper register, and his lower register rivals the depth of Mike Holcomb’s. He closes the song with the lowest A-flat on the piano, hitting it with an ease that suggests he was far from pushing the limits of his range.
:1: Song Selection: The songs on this album are consistently good. Many are very, very good. There are a handful of truly exceptional songs. The Diplomats already have first-rate production quality and vocal performances; if they can find more exceptional songs for future albums, they already have what it takes to produce a five-star album.
Credits: Producer: Corey Pearson. Engineers: Corey Pearson, Jason Singleton, Jeremy Chupp. Piano/keyboards: Danny Crawford. Bass: Corey Pearson. Drums: Ricky Free. Steel/resophonic guitar: Scotty Sanders. Electric/acoustic guitar: Jeremy Medkiff. Fiddle: Andy Leftwich. Orchestration: Anthony Johnson. Mixed by: Jason Singleton. Mastered by: Anthony Johnson. Group members: Rita Pearson (alto), Jimmy Pearson, Corey Pearson, Joseph Brown (bass), Michael Lott (piano), Jeremy (last name and position not given either on CD or biographies section of Diplomats website, but an attentive reader notes that it’s Chupp).
Rating: 4 stars. Average song rating: 3.4 stars.
Song List: Grand Homecoming; Joy in the Storm; Buried My Sins in the Past; God Shall Wipe Away All Tears; Not For the Blood of the Cross; The Other Side; Travelers Protected By Grace; He Still Takes Time For Me; We’re Gonna Rise; Sheltered in the Arms of God; I’ll Soon Be Gone.