CD Review: Redeeming the Time (Kingdom Heirs)

Redeeming the Time - Kingdom HeirsEvery generation of Southern Gospel quartets has a select few that leave a permanent mark on the genre by inspiring the next generation of singers to follow in their footsteps. Members of the Kingdom Heirs grew up listening to Gold City, the Kingsmen, and the Cathedrals; members of the next generation of Southern Gospel legends are cutting their teeth on the Kingdom Heirs. Look at “favorite singer” sections on countless regional groups’ websites, and you will probably see Kingdom Heirs members mentioned more than any other current group.

Some groups attempt to bring new fans into Southern Gospel by changing their approach to appeal to fans of other styles of music. The Kingdom Heirs bring new fans into Southern Gospel by capturing and perfecting the fundamental elements that have always defined and drawn fans to Southern Gospel.

These elements are found as strong as ever on Redeeming the Time. “Sermon on the Mount” is a strong album opener and would also make a strong concert opener. The two convention songs—”Just Beyond the Sunset” and “The Joys of Heaven”—are two of the strongest they’ve ever added to their repertoire. Toe-tappers like “Expect the Unexpected” and “Just Preach It” don’t disappoint. Among the anthems, the Jerry Martin-anchored “I Thank You” is a particularly strong arrangement and performance. And if “I’ll Know I’m Home” doesn’t get audiences shouting by the end of the final verse, nothing will.

Two songs deserve special mention: “How We Gonna Live in Babylon” and “Redeeming the Time.” (Rebecca Peck wrote the latter; she co-wrote the former with Dianne Wilkinson.) These represent a welcome trend in Southern Gospel songwriting. Much like the optimistically patriotic songs that frequently surfaced in our genre twenty years ago, they are cultural commentary. As our culture becomes increasingly hostile to Biblical Christianity, songs copying the patriotic optimism that worked so well in the 1980s and 1990s seem increasingly naive. In contrast, these two songs offer a more mature look at our current cultural milieu. Sure, we might want America back, but it’s looking increasingly unlikely that we’re going to get America back. If we don’t, we need to brace ourselves for the lions’ den. “How We Gonna Live in Babylon” explores this directed, while “Redeeming the Time” ponders how we can be “redeeming the time / in this evil day.”

Redeeming the Time is easily one of the strongest albums the Kingdom Heirs have ever released. It’s also the strongest album released so far this year, handily earning its five-star rating. No quartet fan wants to miss this album.

Traditional or Progressive: Traditional vocally; mixture of traditional and progressive instrumentally.

Group Members: Jerry Martin (tenor), Arthur Rice (lead), Steve French (baritone), Jeff Chapman (bass), Andy Stringfield (pianist), Kreis French (bass guitar), Dennis Murphy (drums).

Credits: Producers: Arthur Rice and Jeff Collins. Engineers: Van Atkins, Arthur Rice, Jerry Martin, Tim Smith. Mixed and Mastered by Arthur Rice and Zack Knudsen. Musicians: Jeff Collins (piano, keyboards), Andy Stringfield (piano, keyboards), Tony Creasman (drums, percussion), Jeremy Medkiff (bass guitar, electric guitar), David Johnson (acoustic guitar, mandolin, fiddle, resonator guitar, harmonica, steel guitar, banjo), Milton Smith (orchestrations), Steve Patrick (trumpet), Barry Green (trombone, bass trombone), Doug Moffet (tenor sax).

Song List (songwriters in parentheses): The Sermon on the Mount (Dianne Wilkinson, Rebecca Peck); Just Preach It (Dianne Wilkinson, Rebecca Peck); How We Gonna Live in Babylon? (Dianne Wilkinson, Rebecca Peck); Redeeming the Time (Rebecca Peck); Wasted Years (Wally Fowler); Just Beyond the Sunset (Dianne Wilkinson); I’ll Know I’m Home (Dianne Wilkinson, Jeff Crews), The Joys of Heaven (Dianne Wilkinson); I Thank You (Dianne Wilkinson); Expect the Unexpected (Rebecca Peck, Logan Peck); The Borrowed Tomb (Dianne Wilkinson, Rebecca Peck).

Album Rating: 5 stars.

Five-star songs: Sermon on the Mount; How We Gonna Live in Babylon; Redeeming the Time; Just Beyond the Sunset; I’ll Know I’m Home; The Joys of Heaven.

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37 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. “As our culture becomes increasingly hostile to Biblical Christianity, songs copying the patriotic optimism that worked so well in the 1980s and 1990s seem increasingly naive. In contrast, these two songs offer a more mature look at our current cultural milieu. Sure, we might want America back, but it’s looking increasingly unlikely that we’re going to get America back. ”

    Couldn’t agree more. That’s why we desperately need people like Mrs. Dianne, who truly have a Biblical perspective on the modern world. Jesus is coming, and the time is short. In a day where Christians are compromising the Gospel to remain culturally relevant, we must instead stand for the Gospel now more than ever. Thank the Lord for these writers, and to the Kingdom Heirs for recording songs like “We Will Stand Our Ground,” and these new ones, which I haven’t heard yet.

    • I almost thought about making this observation a separate post, but I ultimately decided to keep it in the review, in its original context. I have noticed a decline in patriotically optimistic songs in SG in the last few years. Perhaps this album will be a landmark moment stylistically, and start a trend in our genre of songs geared toward encouraging a persecuted Christian minority (which, if you break it down to only born-again Christians, is increasingly looking like our current status.)

      • I’ll speak for me personally. It is difficult to be patriotic when the blood of our children is running through the streets, with the consent of our government, when the Word has become offensive, and is removed from public recognition at every opportunity, and when a majority of the citizenry are now openly supportive of blatant sin.

      • I don’t want this to distract from the Kingdom Heirs and I’m sorry if I’ve gone too far on a tangent for this discussion. I totally understand and support your decision if you want to delete it.

      • Actually, this time, I don’t mind. It’s dealing rather directly with topics that I discussed in the main post. A couple of months ago, I wrote a post on my personal site that delves into this topic in more detail: Under some of the definitions of what makes a nation a Christian nation, our nation used to be a Christian nation. But, today, it is a nation in rebellion against its Creator. It breaks my heart to type those words, but I say them because they are true.

      • For me, it really helps to get clear just where I’m directing my thoughts. I don’t feel patriotic about out government and its policies thats for sure! But I feel patriotic about the places and people in America that still represent what’s good in America.

  2. I love the fact that this CD is loaded with songs from 2 of my absolute favorite songwriters (Dianne Wilkinson, and a songwriting mentor of mine Becky Peck). This just makes me want to hear this recording even more now!

    • If I’m not mistaken, this is the first time that Rebecca Peck has gotten four cuts on a Kingdom Heirs record (two of which weren’t co-writes with Miss Dianne).

  3. Excellent review Daniel. This has been a highly anticipated album personally, as I greatly respect these guys, their talent, and their dedication to the timeless art of quartet music. I also commend their boldness in addressing current cultural issues with strong scripture based truth woven into great music. Excellent writing and excellent delivery. They’ve got a good thing going!

    • Yes, sir, and thanks!

      Even though it’s not out digitally for a couple of weeks yet, it is available from them; they’ve been selling it at Dollywood for somewhere approaching a month now.

  4. I love The Kingdom Heirs. I can’t wait to hear this new album. I hope it will be out soon if it’s not already!!

    • It’s been available from them for about a month, and it’ll be available from iTunes on 5/21.

      • Looks to me like she has 6 cuts…

      • Ah, yes, I got mixed up. Two with Miss Dianne and four without.

  5. Thanks for the CD review Daniel! I am excited about this and I cannot wait to hear it! God bless!

  6. To say that I am EXCITED is by far an understatement!! I can not wait to get my copy!! I have wondered every time that KH have come out with a new album, “Just how are they going to top the last one?” They continue to do it every time and I am so thankful that we still have awesome quartets such as KH to keep the tradition of just straight back quartet singing!! They do not try to adjust their sound to bring others in (as you have already stated Daniel) but instead they ARE just singing the style of music that I believe to be the best in the world!!! I can not wait to hear this album! The first single is the “Just Beyond the Sunset” and it is getting played a lot in Northeast Mississippi where I am from!! Thanks for the “wetting of the appetite” Daniel! LOL! I was already excited but now I really can’t wait!!

    • You’re welcome! I am confident that this album will not disappoint you. 🙂

  7. Thanks for the information on the latest from my favorite group. If they have recorded it, I own it and can’t wait to add this to the collection in just a few weeks when we visit Dollywood. They are scripturally correct and musically strong.

  8. Daniel….I’m thrilled with your five star review of this recording, and thank you for everything you said (you, too, Chris!). You’re exactly right about many of us having a burden to remind folks that these are not only the last days, but that they are indeed the perilous times which the Apostle Paul wrote about…describing them to a “tee”! One thing I love about the Kingdom Heirs (among many) is that they have the courage to sing the thought-provoking songs like “How We Gonna Live in Babylon”, and “Where’s John”, and songs about people who try to control what preachers say. That DOES take courage in a day when some people seem to shy away from such messages. Another thing I love about them is the high standard they set for themselves about selecting songs and putting a project together so that it is the very best they can possibly make it. Much prayer, much soul-searching always. I’m unbelievably blessed to have the association with them that I do, and honored that they have recorded my songs over the years. If I could describe them in a phrase, it would be the title of a song of mine from a few years back: “True to the call”. Ever and always. I’ll say this for me and J.C.: QUARTET QUARTET QUARTET!!!! 🙂

    • These are perilous times indeed, and thank you for capturing that in song!

  9. Daniel, I want to thank you for your words. I read your comments frequently and I’ve noticed that you’re always kind and are a gentleman…and you’re right on. I agree with all of the positive comments about the Kingdom Heirs. I’ve never seen them in person and I don’t think I even own one of their CDs because I almost always buy just one track at a time online these days. When I can listen to clips from the new CD I’m sure I’ll buy the ones I like from it too. I like new music and am constantly updating my playlists and the Kingdom Heirs have been a source of good new songs.

    • Vic, thanks! I do try to be courteous in my reviews. Even when I find what I perceive to be an area of weakness in a CD, I try to find the most courteous way I can to express it. (And I didn’t find any areas of weakness in this CD, hence the incredibly rare 5-star rating!)

  10. Have always liked the KH and have seen them live a few times, I like the way they stay true to the roots of real Southern Gospel Music and Diannes songs are a good fit for their style. I might aslo mention that I have NEVER heard a song by Dianne that wasn’t great!

  11. Hope this cd would come to Indonesia. Thanks for the review, Daniel.
    BTW, did my eyes playing trick on me or is it really there are two “Expect the Unexpected” on this album… 🙂

    • No, there aren’t two. 🙂 Good catch – fixed!

  12. Great review, Daniel!

    Is there a chance that those unfortunate people who wait until May 21 will get to hear clips on Crossroads’s website? 🙂

    • Soon, I hope! 🙂

      Also, soon, there should be 90-second lengthy preview clips posted on iTunes. I don’t think anyone posts as long of samples as iTunes does. (I just checked, and don’t see them yet there.)

      • Hopefully Crossroads will post the previews soon!!!!

  13. Daniel, Just curious if you have any information or comments about the Fan Fest in Visalia, CA this last weekend?
    From what I hear it was a great time and next year sounds like the line up is going to be better than ever.
    Larry Thompson

    • Larry, I haven’t heard much about it. Sorry!

  14. Let me add my two cents. My love for quartet music is no secret and I always anxiously await the arrival of new Kingdom Heirs music. I have often told Arthur that they need to buck tradition and put out a new album every six months, if for nobody but me! As artist’s, we strive to make each recording better than the previous one, and the Kingdom Heirs are no exception. Well, they have done it again. Lyrically, musically, and stylistically they have covered a broad spectrum on “Redeeming The Time,” executing perfection on every level. Arthur Rice is one of the greatest talents in any field of music and his commitment to excellence, not just in singing, but production, as well, should be recognized far more than it is. Each member of this group delivers an incredible performance on every track and I could continue on about how wonderful this project is, but let me sum it up like this. I have had my copy for about a week and it has not left the CD player in my car. My wife, who admittedly does not frequently voluntarily listen to quartet music, is the reason for this. She will listen all the way through, but invariably, she will repeat “The Sermon on the Mount” at least three or four times in a row, each time stating, “That’s a great song!” I have often been asked in interviews what I would play to introduce someone to our type of music who has never heard it before. I can now emphatically add the Kingdom Heirs’ “Redeeming The Time” to that list. Great job guys!

    • It’s neat to see one group manager speak this highly of another group!

  15. I am excited about this new release as well
    however, the cover artwork leaves a little to
    be desired.

    • I like how the cover communicates the title concept.