CD Review: Glorious Day (Ernie Haase & Signature Sound)

Ernie Haase and Signature Sound - Glorious Day

Is it a coincidence that Paul Harkey is wearing a short tie on Glorious Day‘s album cover?

Ernie Haase thinks visually; small details don’t escape him. It’s probably no coincidence that Harkey’s debut album cover with the group has a distinct visual connection to the era that took the group to the top of the genre some eight years ago.

While recently departed bass singer Ian Owens’ voice was a cultured and perhaps even high-church departure for the group, Harkey brings back the excitement and flair of the Tim Duncan era. In fact, a fan of the group eight years ago who hearing the group on the radio today, might not even notice that there had been a bass singer change. Given how beloved Duncan was, and that his eight years with the group included the group’s most popular era to date, this is hardly a bad thing.

Harkey has two stellar solos, “Scars in the Hands of Jesus” and “Two Coats. Both have been historically identified as songs for higher timbres of voices; “Scars in the Hands of Jesus” was a Florida Boys’ tenor feature staple for years, while “Two Coats” is a classic Ralph Stanley bluegrass tune. Harkey’s fresh interpretation of each song makes the songs fully worth this revisiting.

No factor is more determinative of an album’s quality than the strength of its songs. This is the strongest collection of new songs Signature Sound has put together since their 2006 release Get Away Jordan (reviewed here). Besides the two Harkey features already mentioned, other standout tracks include the uptempo quartet song “Water-Walking God” and the mid-tempo-with-a-touch-of-soul Ernie Haase feature “When I Was a Sinner.” There’s also a live acoustic version of “Sometimes I Wonder,” a Doug Anderson feature that was easily the standout track on Signature Sound’s previous mainline, Here We Are Again (reviewed here). 

Ernie Haase is definitely not one to think inside the box. In the decade he has been running Ernie Haase and Signature Sound, he has never gone more than a year or two without trying something dramatically unique. Sometimes his innovations bring the genre forward. Other times (e.g. “Happy Birthday, Anniversary Too” and perhaps “Everytime”), he’s so far outside the box that the Southern Gospel box will never catch up!

Ten years from now, looking back at this project, will we see a couple of things that, in retrospect, look cheesy? Perhaps. But we’re also fairly certain to see a number of things and think that the group was a decade ahead of their time. That’s the risk innovators take.

One aspect particularly stands out: Ten to fifteen years ago, digital studio technology reached a point where vocal and instrumental performances could be enhanced to a level of perfection beyond the best humanly possible performance. Digitally induced perfection quickly caught on in this genre and others. Several of the songs on Glorious Day suggest that Ernie Haase and producer Wayne Haun seem to think that this trend has peaked and run its course. Songs like “Shh, Be Still” and “When I Was a Sinner” aren’t phrased as tightly as similar songs on previous albums. (Put another way, there are slight differences between when group members singing harmony parts start or end a musical phrase.) Could it be that Southern Gospel fans have reached a point where they are ready to prefer performances that are a little less polished and more human? Haase and Haun seem to think so, and I suspect they might be right.

Glorious Day might not be the single strongest recording Ernie Haase & Signature Sound has ever recorded. (“Noah Found Grace in the Eyes of the Lord” stays close enough to previous versions that it would have been more at home on a table project.) But it is the strongest project of new songs they have recorded in six or seven years. If you loved Signature Sound in the Seaton/Anderson/Duncan era, but haven’t been following as closely since, the time has definitely come to give them another chance.

Traditional or Progressive: All of the above, plus bluegrass, brass band, and just about anything else you can think of.

Group Members: Ernie Haase (tenor), Devin McGlamery (lead), Doug Anderson (baritone), Paul Harkey (bass).

Credits: Producer: Wayne Haun. Recorded by: Kevin Ward and Michael Stankiewicz. Mixed by Kevin Ward. Mastered by Alan Silverman. Musicians: Not credited.

Song List (songwriters in parentheses): When the Saints Go Marching In; When Jesus Breaks the Morning (William J. Gaither); That’s Why (Ernie Haase, Wayne Haun, Joel Lindsey); Scars in the Hands of Jesus (Marijohn Wilkin); Shh, Be Still (Ernie Haase, Wayne Haun, Joel Lindsey); Water Walking God (Ernie Haase, Wayne Haun, Joel Lindsey); Noah Found Grace in the Eyes of the Lord (Robert Schmertz); Two Coats; While I Was a Sinner (Jeff Bumgardner, Wayne Haun); Glorious Day; Sometimes I Wonder (live acoustic version) (Ernie Haase, Wayne Haun, Joel Lindsey).

Album rating: 4.5 stars. Average song rating: 3.8 stars.

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15 Letters to the Editor

Southern Gospel Journal welcomes letters to the editor. We will post the most thoughtful and insightful submissions. Ground rules: Don't attack or belittle groups or fellow posters, or advance heresies rejected by orthodox Christianity. Do keep comments positive, constructive, and on topic.
  1. Thanks for the review…I look forward to hearing it!

    • You’re welcome! I doubt you’ll like everything on the CD, but I think there are several songs you will love.

  2. I’m a big enough fan of Paul Harkey that I pre-ordered this CD last week. Can’t wait to hear it.

  3. Can’t wait to get my copy!

  4. I think I’ll get this CD, since reading your review. I, too, think Paul does a good job.

  5. Thanks Daniel….I have heard the guys sing 5 of the new songs…..loved everyone of them…Shhh Be Still…the 6 of us just sat there in Awe….Love Love Love this and can’t wait for my preordered cd to come….

  6. I love the new CD and I still love EHSS even through all the changes in the group.
    I am a person who likes things to stay the same, you know like wearing that old
    comfy pair of house slippers? Well I sort of felt that way about EHSS after I heard them
    sing a few times in concert and let me just say this…the changes have only
    made them better. Paul Harkey is an excellent choice for this group and I hope he is here
    for the long haul. I know Ernie has a difficult time when guys have to or want to leave for
    one reason or another…but this time I think Ernie Haase and Signature Sound will be around
    for a long time. Let me say a couple of things about Devin and Doug, you would have to look
    long and hard to find two more like these gentlemen. The example they have set as family men
    and their honest love for the Lord, fans and Gospel Music. is the real deal. Thanks Ernie for always
    finding a spot on your Tour Schedule, to come and sing for us In Phoenix, AZ. EHSS will always hold
    a special place in my heart.

  7. I Love EHSS … I have already ordered!

  8. I just wanted to point out that if anyone has any doubts from looking at the cover about whether to buy it because the cover looks like CCM wannabees, I highly recommend that you buy it. It is definitely southern gospel. I could even see a majority of the songs being sung by other top SG groups.

  9. Just curious, what are the things you think could perhaps look cheesy in retrospect? I’m guessing “Shh, Be Still” and “Noah Found Grace” top your list? I guess I could see some categorize the title cut that way too…

  10. Hi Daniel,
    I just got the cd today. I like the cd. Especially Scars in the Hands of Jesus. Paul is definitely lower and more like Tim Duncan, but I want to clarify that Ian Owens is no slouch as a bass singer. I think Ian is still an amazing bass.

    • I like Ian, too, and think he’s a great fit with Soul’d Out.

  11. I just wasn’t sure what you meant when you said fans won’t notice that there wasn’t a bass singer change from Tim’s days with them and the high church departure comment. Sure Ian is different but he was a solid bass and refreshing. Just a classy singer altogether. I don’t think Paul or Tim were better than him, just different. And even though I didn’t like Here We Are Again at first, it ended up being my favorite the group has ever done.

  12. I haven’t heard alot to their new songs in a concert setting yet. The CD is very good. They have a great mix of songs and styles. My husband and I like “That’s Why”. Devin does an awesome on this recording! We are enjoying listening to the new CD. EHSS is a great group of singers and guys. If you haven’t purchased their new CD, go do it!