CD Review: The Lord is Good (Collingsworth Family)
You simply can’t measure a Collingsworth Family recording with the same measuring stick you use for a Perrys or Hoppers recording. They aim for a different target. Their recordings are less in the tradition of the Happy Goodmans or Nelons and more in the vein of a 1970s Bill Gaither Trio or Henry & Hazel Slaughter. They occupy a niche so much their own in today’s stylistic spectrum that it’s hard to compare their new releases with anything except their own previous recordings.
In that light: Their last few mainline releases have had a song or two that stands head and shoulders above the rest, a signature song or defining moment. (Think “Fear Not Tomorrow,” “Resurrection Morn,” or “That’s The Place I’m Longing To Go.”) The Lord is Good doesn’t. This year, they did introduce such a song—”Burdens Are Lifted at Calvary”—but that song ended up on their new hymns release, reviewed here, instead of the mainline release.
Even though The Lord is Good doesn’t have a single defining moment, what it does have is twelve good songs that stand shoulder to shoulder with one another for a consistently enjoyable effort.
There is a mixture of the old and the new. The strongest uptempo song, “Show a Little Bit of Love and Kindness,” is a John W. Peterson song somewhere around a half-century old. “How Great His Love For Me,” a new song, has a bridge of the classic song “Love Found a Pardon”; the bridge is strong enough to make one wish the arrangement team had dispensed with the notion of using it as a bridge and simply added the entire classic to the song list.
Those two songs are also perhaps the two on the recording most likely to stand out to listeners whose frame of reference is other Southern Gospel releases. Both are excellently performed—Phil Jr.’s feature on “How Great His Love For Me” and Olivia’s feature on “Show a Little Bit of Love and Kindness” leave absolutely nothing to be desired. But the Collingsworth Family is probably at their best when they’re doing songs that wouldn’t find a place on most Southern Gospel mixed group projects. This is shown in songs like “There is Healing in His Hands,” “If He Hung The Moon,” or the album’s overall strongest moment, “God is Moving.”
Largely because their strongest performance of the year ended up on a project besides the mainline, The Lord is Good doesn’t quite bump The Answer (reviewed here) and Part of The Family (reviewed here) from their position as the group’s strongest two releases to date. But it’s one of their five best, as well as one of the ten best CDs released this year. It is well worth adding to any Southern Gospel collection.
Group Members: Phil Collingsworth Sr., Kim Collingsworth, Brooklyn Collingsworth Blair, Courtney Collingsworth Metz, Phil Collingsworth Jr., Olivia Collingsworth.
Song List (songwriters in parentheses): I’ve Come Here To Tell You That The Lord is Good (Williams/Talley); It’s Not Too Late To Pray (Dianne Wilkinson, Rebecca Peck); Show A Little Bit of Love and Kindness (John W. Peterson); If He Hung The Moon (Kirk Talley); We Will Serve The Lord (Wayne Haun, Joel Lindsey, Jeff Bumgardner); There Is Healing in His Hands (Allred); My Debt Was Paid (McCutcheon/Gillespie); God Is Moving (Kirk Talley); Living In Love With the Lord (McCutcheon); It Matters to the Master (McCutcheon); How Great His Love/Love Found A Pardon (Lindsey/Bumgardner with Sumner/Brown); I Could Never Outlove the Lord (Gaither).