CD Review: For All He’s Done (Greater Vision)
When Greater Vision launched in 1990, they were known for straight-ahead Southern Gospel instrumental tracks. Sure, there might be strings on one track and steel guitar on the next, but the piano led the tracks and the vocals were squarely out front. In the late ’90s and early ’00s, they went through a stylistic phase of heavier orchestrations produced by Lari Goss. For All He’s Done continues the trend started by their previous album, The Only Way (reviewed here), of a return to the style that put them on the map. Lari Goss remains on the production team, but his orchestrations tend to be less dominant in the mix.
Most of the album’s songs are fast or on the fast side of medium; only three tracks are longer than four minutes long, and two of those are 4:01 and 4:06! This hardly ends up being a bad thing, though, as fast songs provide most of the highlight moments. “Forever Is Sure” and “Looking For the Grace” are both strong toe-tappers. And don’t let the fact that the words in “Preacher, Tell Me Like It Is” fly by quickly dim their impact:
Preacher, you say you want to be my friend
Don’t be afraid to call my sin what it is
And preacher, tell me I can overcome
But it’s only by the blood of the Lamb
Don’t tell me like I wish it was
Preacher, tell me like it is
The bridge’s allusion to I Corinthians 1:18-21 is sheer brilliance:
Life is quickly passing; the world is fading fast
And the foolishness of preaching is the only hope we have
For All He’s Done doesn’t have any show-stopping, massive anthems—nothing that would suggest comparisons to Gerald Wolfe’s landmark renditions of “Till the Storm Passes By,” “It is Well,” or “Oh Holy Night.” In fact, Gerald Wolfe doesn’t have many solos, period. He sings a verse of “Looking For Me,” and you can hear his voice here and there on other songs, but the under-utilization of one of Southern Gospel’s all-time most awarded vocalists is the project’s greatest weakness.
On the bright side, Chris Allman proves once again why he’s one of the greatest tenors on the road; his Midas touch turns anything he sings into musical gold. Rodney Griffin ably anchors his features, including the project’s strongest slow song, “This is Mercy.” It’s a song Griffin co-wrote with Natalie Harp; its imagine-if perspective on a familiar Biblical story is a device that has served Griffin well, anchoring previous songs like “They Should Have Cried Holy,” “No Longer Chained,” and, of course, “My Name is Lazarus.”
For All He’s Done features top-notch vocals and production quality and a number of strong original songs; it’s an able and competent entry in the Greater Vision discography.
Group Members: Chris Allman (tenor), Gerald Wolfe (lead), Rodney Griffin (baritone).
Credits: Produced by Gerald Wolfe. Orchestrations by Lari Goss. Rhythm tracks and vocals recorded by Van Atkins and Scott Barnett at Crossroads Studios, Arden, NC. Additional vocals recorded by Bob Williams at Playground Studios, Nashville, TN. Mixed and mastered by Bob Williams. Background vocals on “For All He’s Done” by Chris Allman, Jim Brady, and Melissa Brady. Orchestrations recorded at The Sound Kitchen, Franklin, TN. Engineered by Bob Williams; assistant engineer Adam Deane. Performed by The Nashville String Machine; conducted by Carl Gorodetzky. Musicians: Gerald Wolfe (piano, keyboards), Mylon Hayes (bass guitar), Jeremy Medkiff (bass and electric guitars), Tony Creasman (drums and percussion), David Johnson (guitars, fiddle, banjo, steel guitar), Jason Webb (Hammond B-3). Review copy provided.
Song List: Come Unto Me (written by Chris Allman); Looking For the Grace (Rodney Griffin); This is Mercy (Rodney Griffin, Natalie Harp); The Blood Hasn’t Ever Changed (Chris Allman); Forever is Sure (Jim Brady, Rodney Griffin); Seeking For Me (Lanny Wolfe); Preacher Tell Me Like it Is (Rodney Griffin); I Can Trust You (Chris Allman); I Will Take Care of You (Rodney Griffin); For All He’s Done (Chris Allman).
Five-star songs: This is Mercy; Forever is Sure; Preacher Tell Me Like It Is.