3:1 CD Review: Strength (Ball Brothers)
3:1 Reviews offer three highlights of an album and one area that could have been improved.
1: Not Anymore: This anthem, anchored by the vocals of Andy Tharp, easily makes a top-three list of the strongest songs the Ball Brothers have introduced (and/or introduced to our genre). It’s on par with “Mercy Said No” and “It’s About the Cross”; depending on your stylistic preferences, this track may even head your list.
The lyrics are thoughtfully crafted. The first verse discusses the waiting for the Messiah, “but not anymore.” The second chorus is from the perspective of the disciples right after the crucifixion, how they had hoped He would save them, “but not anymore.” Then, naturally, a bridge discusses the Resurrection, how the disciples witness that He “once was in the grave / but not anymore.” It’s obvious that a Southern Gospel song won’t quit with Jesus in the grave, but the story twists the lyric takes on its way to that conclusion are fresh and delightful.
2: All I Have To Be: New bass singer Chad McCloskey proves that the Ball Brothers haven’t slipped any with their new vocal lineup. This song features his upper baritone register, and is both one of the strongest songs and the strongest vocal performances on the album.
3: Over the Horizon: This fun, up-tempo song was introduced by 4HIM on their 1991 Face the Nation record. Brian Free & Assurance brought it into the Southern Gospel genre as the stellar opening track to their 2009 Acapella album; bass singer Jeremy Lile shone with a memorable walking bass part. While it would have been cool to hear how new Ball Brothers bass singer Chad McCloskey did with a walking bass part, the Ball Brothers’ rendition here sticks closer to the original 4HIM version. That’s not entirely a bad thing, as it works well for the group’s current sound and style and is the project’s strongest fast song.
:1: ?: It’s hard to pinpoint any specific weakness of the album. The group’s taste in arrangements and song selection tends to fall out of the mainstream of the groups currently dominating the charts. This, of course, gives them one of the most distinctive and easily recognizable sounds in our genre—a sound that remains consistent despite the lower half the group changing since their previous mainline album.
If you haven’t liked their previous albums, you probably won’t care for this one, either. But, on the flip side, if their previous albums have been your cup of tea, there is a good chance you will view this album as their strongest to date. Most of the songs and arrangements are in their wheelhouse, while tracks like “Not Anymore” transcend sub-genre and should appeal to virtually any Southern Gospel fan.
Credits: Tenor: Andrew Ball. Lead: Daniel Ball. Baritone: Andy Tharp. Bass: Chad McCloskey. Pianist: Cody McVey.
Song List: There is Hope; All I Have to Be; I Smile; Walk With Me; Eyes On You; Not Anymore; You Love Me Anyway; What If; Over the Horizon; To Ever Live Without Me.
Five-star songs: Not Anymore.