3:1 CD Review: Before the Rain (The Dills)

The Dills - Before the Rain3:1 Reviews offer three highlights of an album and one area that could have been improved.

1: Before the Rain: This Tim Dill feature is the strongest song the Dills have ever recorded, both lyrically and musically. It captures the pathos of Job, Lamentations, or some of the sorrowful Psalms: Even in the hard times, we still praise God for His blessings. The song was co-written by Lee Black, Gina Boe, and Lisa Qualsett; Black and Boe have already written any number of hits, but even so, this would have to be one of their finest moments.

2: A King and a Pauper: Musically and lyrically, this is the album’s most unusual song. Originally written and recorded by singer/songwriter Brian Arnold, this is the song’s first appearance in Southern Gospel. But despite (or perhaps because of) its unusual traits, the song is immediately memorable. It’s a project highlight from the first spin, and gets better on repeated plays. 

3 or :1? Clear Thematic Vision: The meat and potatoes of the Southern Gospel diet is songs with a clear focus on the Cross and on Heaven. References to the Cross and Heaven aren’t gone from Before the Rain, but they’re rare. With one exception—the Marcie Kelsey-penned convention song “Oh, What a Beautiful City,” a clear high moment for the project—the songs clearly were selected with a focus on the here and now. This focus will be common to fans of Contemporary Christian Music, but it’s not like this is a CCM project. It’s a CCM lyrical focus in relatively middle of road Southern Gospel musical setting. 

To its credit, the project is not a collection of ten random, unrelated songs. But that does mean that it doesn’t exactly have something for everyone. If you like a lyrical focus on the here and now, this will probably be your single favorite Southern Gospel release of the year. If that’s not your cup of tea, this project might not be your cup of tea. But even then, in this era of single-song digital downloads, the title track is a definite must, and you may well want to throw in “A King and a Pauper” or “Oh, What a Beautiful City” while you’re at it.

Also worth reading: If you’d like a more in-depth look than this by-nature-brief review, Wes Burke’s in-depth review is well worth a read.

Traditional or Progressive: Progressive lyrically, middle of the road musically.

Group Members: LeeAnn Dill, Bridget Dill, Tim Dill, Shawn Dill.

Credits: Produced by Matthew Holt and Donna King. Recorded by Steve Dady at Sunset Boulevard Studios. Vocals recorded by Tim Dill. Digital editing by Tim Dill. Orchestration on “Oh, What a Beautiful City” by Milton Smith. Track for Before the Rain by John Willis. Musicians: Jason Webb (piano, B3), Matthew Holt (keyboard), Dave Cleveland (electric guitar, acoustic guitar, gut string guitar); Mark Hill (bass); Steve Brewster (drums); Tim Lorsch (cello); Gene Walden (strings, percussion).

Song List: A Song to Sing (Kenna Turner West, Paula Stefanovich); Before the Rain (Lee Black, Gina Boe, Lisa Qualsett); I Still Trust You (James McFall); Something to Say (Marty Funderburk, Steve Marshall); As For Me and My House (Tim Sheppard); A King and a Pauper (Brian Arnold); This is How We Know (Kenna Turner West; Lee Black; Cliff Duren); Oh What a Beautiful City (Marcie Kelsey); The Lord’s Prayer.

Album rating: 4 stars. Five-star songs: Before the Rain, Oh What a Beautiful City.

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13 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. Um, well, I just like good songs! What does that make me? :0P

    • “Good” as subjective, or “good” by some objective criteria? If so, which are those criteria?

      • Well… criteria that could include both good SG and good CCM I guess! I just meant that I think you can be a fan of both. 🙂

      • But what, in your opinion, makes a song good? That’s the question I need you to answer for me before I can answer for you the question you asked me. That’s why I’m asking a question to answer a question. 🙂 😛

      • Oh I see, LOL. It really wasn’t a serious question, just a joke. I was teasing you because you seemed to be separating your readers into groups. 🙂

      • Oh, OK. Well, I kind of needed to separate readers into groups here. Fans who like this sort of song will like the CD; Inspirations and Chuck Wagon Gang fans, well, won’t. For a review to be a good review, it has to give readers an idea of if this would be an album they ought to check out. 🙂

  2. You said the Before the Rain was written by West and Stefanovich but Wes said The title track was written by the team of Lee Black, Gina Boe, and Lisa Qualsett. Who is right?

    • Wes. I’ll edit.

      • Actually, I got it right in the credits section; there was just that typo in the main review. Main review – fixed. Credits – remain right. Ah, well.

  3. Thanks Daniel for the review of our new CD. I’m so glad the direction of the album was easily distinguished. We were not attempting to create a CCM recording, but did want it to lyrically focus on current and relevant events. We totally appreciate and support lyrics about Heaven and the Cross… but wanted this recording to focus on the “stuff” that we all face in life! So glad that you picked up on that! Thanks again for what I consider to be a very positive and complimentary review!

    • You’re more than welcome! The album fully earned every compliment.

      I really appreciate the thought that goes into making an album ore than just a collection of ten random songs.

  4. Daniel!! Thanks for the review from one of the producers as well. I was blessed to be a part. Tracking, I feel, was pinnacle to getting the sound we knew the group had to go for. We really collaborated on what that needed to look and sound and FEEL like. I truly LOVED working, along with Matthew Holt, on the shape and feel of this recording. I couldn’t be with them on the last day of vocals and it nearly killed me..LOL (not literally, but once a producer, always a producer)…I feel this project is going to be, FIRST, the best MINISTRY collection the group has ever delivered in concert and, SECOND, a best selling record for the DILLS. I cannot thank them enough for allowing me to be a part of it!

    • Thanks! So glad you enjoyed the review!

      (I’m still a fan of Hope’s Call! I loved seeing a soprano at the soprano part!)