CD Review: Revival (Karen Peck and New River)
Ten or fifteen years ago, Karen Peck & New River transitioned from the live-band era of the group to a more progressive sound. At that point, they were ahead of the curve. But now, that curve has come and gone, and probably 2/3 of what is in the Singing News Top 40 today would have been classified as progressive just fourteen years ago, when the Cathedrals hung up their traveling shoes.
With Revival, Karen Peck & New River doesn’t exactly abandon the progressive sound. What they do is incorporate a fresh infusion of Bluegrass. Karen has always had an affinity for that genre, and the group has done Bluegrass-influenced tracks before, but the influence seems to be more significant here. While several tracks remain straight-ahead to-tappers or progressive numbers, there are a number of tracks with a relatively prominent Bluegrass-style banjo, fiddle, and mandolin added into the mix.
Three tracks stand out as particularly strong songs. The opening and closing numbers, “Revival” and “I’m Saved,” are both impossibly catchy strong songs about salvation, and, incidentally, are two of the most Bluegrass-influenced songs. “Dancing Like Lazarus,” a Joseph Habedank co-write, is every bit as creative, lyrically and musically, as we’ve come to expect from his pen. It’s probably one of his three to five most innovative songs yet.
With Revival’s shift in a Bluegrass direction, is Karen Peck & New River ahead of the curve again? Is a significant Bluegrass influence part of our genre’s future?
There’s a sense in which, for the time being, that doesn’t really matter, because it fits Karen Peck & New River, that’s what really matters.
Traditional or Progressive:
Middle-of-the-road with flavors of progressive and bluegrass.
Group Members: Karen Peck Gooch (soprano), Susan Peck Jackson (alto), Jeff Hawes (male harmony).
Credits: Produced by Wayne Haun. Tracks recorded by Melissa Mattey at Daywind Studio A, Hendersonville, TN. Vocals recorded and edited by Justin Kropf. Orchestra recorded by Bobby Shin at Little Big Sound, Nashville, TN. Musicians: Gordon Mote (piano, B3 organ); John Hammond (drums); Kevin Grantt (bass); Kevin Williams (acoustic guitar); Pat McGrath (acoustic guitar, mandolin, banjo); Glen Duncan (fiddle, banjo); Kenny Greenberg (electric guitar); Scott Sanders (steel guitar).
Song List (songwriters in parentheses): Revival (Kenna Turner West, Karen Peck Gooch, Don Poythress); Oh Hallelujah (Gerald Crabb, Don Poythress); Finish Well (Kenna Turner West, Karen Peck Gooch, Michael Farris); Everybody’s Going Through Something (Kenna Turner West, Karen Peck Gooch, Don Poythress); Dancing Like Lazarus (Joseph Habedank, Sue Smith, Tony Wood); Jesus Remember Me (Wayne Haun, Joel Lindsey, Jeff Bumgardner); I’ve Been Broken (Daryl Williams); Joy In My Heart (Tanya Goodman Sykes, Walter Mills); You Did It Anyway (Don Poythress, Rich Als, John Colgin); I’m Saved (Jason Coxx, Sue Smith, Karen Peck Gooch).
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