2012 in Review: Top 5 Albums

A number of observers of this genre are calling 2012 a slump year for albums. There is some truth to that; several of the genre’s leading groups released albums that were almost (but not quite) as strong as the preceding album. Nevertheless, this year did produce several standout albums:

  1. The Talleys, Love Won. Since I’m webmaster for the Talleys’ website, I thought I was a little too close to the process to write an objective review. Yet I’ll state here the conclusion I would have given had I reviewed it: From song selection to arrangements to performances, this is the strongest album that this family has ever released. (See? I said I didn’t claim to be objective here! Yet it is also worth noting that, in the six years I’ve run this site, I’ve never said this about a previous Talleys album, including the others released since I started working with them.)
  2. Mark Trammell Quartet, Lifetime, reviewed here. A case could be made that this album should head the list. The tie-breaker was that Lifetime contains mostly pre-recorded songs, while Love Won achieves a similarly strong result with new songs.
  3. Booth Brothers, A Tribute to the Songs of Bill and Gloria Gaither, reviewed here.
  4. Tribute Quartet, Our Anthem, reviewed here.
  5. Barry Rowland & Deliverance, Make Mine the Real Thing, reviewed here.

Honorable mention: The Cathedrals’ Live in Chicago (reviewed here) would have stood near the head of the list if I’d included it. Since it was recorded sixteen years ago, it seemed best to focus this list on recently recorded releases. But it was certainly among the year’s strongest releases.


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34 Letters to the Editor

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  1. Very good…your list is pretty close to mine.

    • Have you posted yours yet? If so, forgive me for forgetting it!

      • No…it’s been tough for me to find time to write and post lately. I’ll get around to it pretty soon.

      • Looking forward to when you do find time to get back into the mix!

    • By the way: This is normally a top ten list. I hated to do this, but I ultimately had to conclude that the next five wouldn’t be strong enough to make a top ten list most years.

  2. The Vocal Band and The McKameys (what a combination) both released recordings this year that I would have placed above some of the ones on your list.

  3. I am inclined to agree with you about the lackluster year of recordings. I will say that both Tribute Quartet and the Cathedral project you gave an honorable mention to have both spent significant time in my CD player, and I would consider them the two strongest projects released this year, even though I’m hesitant to put the Cathedrals in the mix because part of me was just overcome with the nostalgia and sentiment of the Cathedrals’ project. That said, it is still a tremendous recording and I think for someone who didn’t grow up with them, they’d still find it an outstanding project. I agree with RP that Precious Seed by the McKameys is one of their stronger projects in the past several years, and the Hoppers’ release this year has grown on me, too. So, I guess my ranking would be Tribute, Cathedrals, McKameys, Hoppers, and honestly, I’m really stuck on what that fifth one would be.

    • I do like the McKameys’ CD, but I also think Joy in the Journey was their strongest in the last decade or so.

  4. I agree that this year has been a bit of a slump for releases. I agree with most of your list (haven’t listened to Tribute [doing a Walk Through of that release this week] or Rowland).

    I do think one album that people have heavily been ignoring this year and hasn’t really gotten a lot of publicity is Karen Peck’s solo album How You Walk the Miles. The song choices are just dynamic and Karen covers a lot of musical ground. Definitely in my Top 5!

  5. What about EHSS’s latest?

    • 🙂

      • Well you did give them a good review so I was just wondering. I know a couple songs didn’t work but there were lots of good ones on there. For a moment I thought I had missed them in an honorable mention or something and that’s why you were winking. 🙂

      • While I found some good points to talk about with the album, I always do. I don’t review an album that I can’t say about anything nice about! I didn’t say it was among their strongest in recent years.

      • You mean you wouldn’t even put it above Dream On?

      • I rank EHSS’s greatest albums in this order:

        1. Stand By Me Live
        2. A Tribute to the Cathedral Quartet
        3. Stand By Me
        4. Ernie Haase & Signature Sound (self-titled)
        5. Influenced
        6. Influenced 2
        7-9 would probably be their early table projects; 10 would probably be Get Away Jordan.

      • I’d say I’d have to agree with Daniel on Here We Are Again. There’s not a whole lot of really memorable moments on the disc…

      • “Everytime” was one of the most memorable things I’ve listened to all year. 🙂

      • Well I wouldn’t put it in their all-time top five of course. But I did like it better than Dream On and their second Influenced project. And the Cathedrals project was great but all old songs. So I would say in terms of relatively recent new material, it’s a standout.

      • Well I wouldn’t put it in their all-time top five of course. But I did like it better than Dream On and their second Influenced project. And the Cathedrals project was great but all old songs. So I would say in terms of relatively recent new material, it’s a standout.

  6. Completely agreed with your first four. To be honest, I can’t comment on the fifth because I haven’t heard it. But one I think I would include is The Old Paths new one.

    • There’s a decent case for it. It’s a really solid album. I still think they have a better one in them, though. Their vocal talent is through the roof, and they’re starting to get the recognition that will hopefully lead songwriters to send them really strong songs.

      • If I could add my thoughts from afar, I agree that Love Won by the Talleys is sitting in the right spot – exceptional recording. I would also agree that Joy In The Journey is stronger for me than Precious Seed by the McKameys, but I am very pleased to have both in my collection. I do like Our Anthem by Tribute Quartet, but Homesick Angels weakens this for me and sticks in my craw, so to speak. I believe that Come On Homr by the Nelons should be floating pretty highly near the top. It is fantastic to see the next generation of artists featuring so strongly with their families.

        I have no complaints about 2012 as a year for Southern Gospel. I say keep it coming!

  7. No “Gospel Echoes”? 🙂

    • It’s definitely top 10. 🙂

    • Wait a minute … I think I know why I didn’t include it. I believe it is a 2011 release. 🙂

  8. I knew I was forgetting something…

    Have you heard the Union Street self-titled debut album? I’d like to know your thoughts.

    • I’ve heard two complete tracks and 90-second previews of the rest. I was expecting something unusual, and it exceeded my expectations.

      • Now there’s a Daniel answer. 🙂

      • Yes, ma’am. I’ll confess to having a little too much fun with that answer!

      • Well I heard clips too, and they were certainly interesting! 😛 Seriously, I would like to hear the whole thing, I really like there sound.

  9. Good list! Just wondering why the Cathedrals Live In Chicago didn’t make top 5? Is it because its from ’96?

    • Precisely. Though it was released this year, it was not recorded this year.

  10. That is understandable. If I had to make a top 6 cd list for 2012 it would be:
    6. Talleys Love won
    5. GVB- Pure and Simple
    4. Booth Brothers Tribute to Bill and Gloria
    3. BFA Nothing But Love
    2. Mark Trammell Quartet Lifetime
    And number 1 would be Cats Live in Chicago

    Honorable mention goes to EHSSQ Here we Are again

    • Interesting – our lists aren’t terribly far apart, especially if we applied the same criteria of only listing currently recorded albums!