CD Review: Fresh Water (Pure Heart)

Pure Heart is a mixed quartet from Chickamauga, Georgia, led by husband-and-wife team John Thomas (bass) and Sheila Thomas (alto). Their niece, Jessica Vaughn, sings soprano; her husband Stuart is the group’s lead/baritone.

The production quality is toward the upper end of what you would expect from a regional Southern Gospel groups. The tracks were recorded by Paul Corley at Oak Tree Studios, so they are professionally recorded. But they’re certainly lower-budget / less elaborate than other recent Corley productions (like The LeFevre Quartet’s latest).

The album’s most strongest moment jumps out as a standout on first listen: “Dead Bones Rise,” based on Ezekiel 37, was written by and features bass singer John Thomas. A bass singer like Tim Riley, Jeff Chapman (Kingdom Heirs), or Paul Harkey (Ernie Haase & Signature Sound) ought to jump on this song and bring it to, respectively, Gold City, Kingdom Heirs, or Ernie Haase & Signature Sound. It would, at a minimum, be an album and concert favorite, and it wouldn’t be hard at all to imagine it as a radio hit with the right arrangement.

Other strong moments include lead singer Stuart Vaughn’s solo on “A Reflection of You” and the nicely executed a capella arrangement of “He Leadeth Me.” The album contains eight other original songs and one more a cappella hymn (“It is Well With My Soul”).

Traditional or Progressive: Middle of the Road.

Group Members: Jessica Vaughn (soprano); Sheila Thomas (alto), Stuart Vaughn (baritone/lead); John Thomas (bass).

Credits: Tracks recorded by Paul Corley at Oak Tree Studios. Vocals produced by John Thomas and recorded at Potter’s Wheel Studios in Chickamauga, Georgia. Musicians: Not credited.

Song List: Lord, Gimme A Pure Heart (written by Don Greene); Come to the Cross (written by John Thomas); Safe in the Rock (written by Gordon Bellcase); It is Well With My Soul (written by Horatio Spafford and Philip P. Bliss); Dead Bones Rise (written by John Thomas); Into the Father’s Arms (written by Sheila Thomas); A Cool Drink of Water (written by John Thomas); A Reflection of You (written by John Thomas); Stepping Stones (written by John Thomas); Do Not Be Afraid (written by John Thomas); He Leadeth Me; An Altar of Prayer (written by John Thomas).

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2 Letters to the Editor

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  1. Am looking for How Heaven Must Be by Pure Heart, an old acappella recording from the 90s

  2. Sorry, that should have been “How Beautiful Heaven Must Be” by Pure Heart, a recording they made in the 90s