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