CD Review: Your Walk Talks (Mark Trammell Quartet)

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There are no two ways about it: The Mark Trammell Quartet’s brand-new release Your Walk Talks is a masterpiece.

A great recording starts with great songs. Mark Trammell has proven he knows how to find good songs; it is not a coincidence that his years with the Cathedrals and Gold City were years in which they found and recorded many of our genre’s all-time greatest songs. Just take the Cathedrals: Trammell ran their publishing company during his years in Stow, Ohio, and for part of his time with the group, screened songs to present the best finalists to the group.

This is only the Mark Trammell Quartet’s second recording of new songs since becoming a quartet; their previous one, Testimony, came out over three years ago, in 2010. But Your Walk Talks is worth the wait. Suppose that they had released one recording a year since 2010, and then pulled together all the strongest songs onto one compilation CD. That’s how strong the song selection is here.

“Don’t Stop Running,” written by and featuring Nick Trammell, is a perfect energetic album opener, setting the tone for the rest of the album.

 “God’s Been Faithful” (Dianne Wilkinson, Scott Inman) is one of those simple message songs that are, all too often, easy to skip over when skipping through the album looking for the next hit song. But Mark Trammell’s showstopping vocal solo is probably his strongest vocal performance on the CD.

“When The King Comes To Claim His Throne” (Dianne Wilkinson) is a song about Christ’s millenial reign featuring new tenor Dustin Black carrying the melody in the convention-style choruses. On an album filled with strong songs, it’s one of the strongest.

“Thanks to Calvary” (Bill and Gloria Gaither) is a song that seemingly every group in the industry has recorded, but Pat Barker’s warm, confident solo makes the song worth standing shoulder to shoulder with the new songs.

The next song, “I’ll Go Over Jordan Someday,” is also a cover, but unlike “Thanks to Calvary,” it’s an old Stamps-Baxter song that has been almost completely forgotten since the Happy Goodmans’ rarely-discussed 1974 rendition.

Your Walk Talks isn’t exactly ballad-heavy. “Man of Sorrows,” a powerful Mark Trammell feature written by Dianne Wilkinson and Rebecca Peck, is an orchestrated anthem. The strings are there, and nicely done—incidentally, by a relatively new face on the scene, Luke Gambill of mystringsection.com. But the song’s every bit as much a hymn as it is a Southern Gospel ballad; it wouldn’t be too hard to imagine a pipe organ in place of the strings.

“Your Walk Talks” (written by Rodney Griffin and Babbie Mason) has simple message put in a delightfully fun way: “Your walk talks / and your talk talks / but your walk talks louder than your talk talks.” Bass singer Pat Barker brings the energy the song needs.

“To Know He Knows Me” (Nick Trammell, Rodney Griffin) is a tongue-twister in the great tradition of a song like “Can He, Could He, Would He.” As the chorus says: “To know He knows me like He knows me and to know that He still loves me / Lets me know that it’s a love that is real / The fact He gave me what He gave me when I asked if He would save me / Tells me He will still a promise fulfill / To know that He did when He didn’t have to do what He did / Shows the heart of His compassion and grace / And since He knows me like He knows me yet He saved me like He saved me / Lets me know His love’s a love that’s here to say.”

“I’ll Take it To The Grave” is co-written by Dianne Wilkinson and Rebecca Peck. After nearly four decades writing many of this genre’s greatest songs, Dianne Wilkinson is a songwriting legend in our genre for good reason. Yet this song is one of the five best songs she has ever written—and the single best fast song she has ever written.

 We get to the final song on the project, “I Wouldn’t Have it Any Other Way” (Dianne Wilkinson), before we have a full-scale feature for new tenor Dustin Black. It’s a reflective song with a deeply doctrinal message; how often do you hear a lyric that begins with “The mirror of God’s Holy Word revealed my lost condition”? The musical setting is the old-school bluesy Gospel style innovated by the Statesmen.

Your Walk Talks is easily the best recording of 2014, so far. But that statement’s a little too easy to make, since it is also the first major-artist recording of the year. So let’s go a little farther: It is one of the three strongest releases so far this decade.

Average song rating: 4.8 stars. Overall album rating: 5 stars.


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32 Letters to the Editor

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  1. So, Daniel…you thought it was pretty good? 🙂

    I’ve been enjoying this CD for a couple of days, and I enjoyed your review, too!

    • Thanks! About 363 days a year on here, I keep a pretty even keel. I think it’s good for people to see me get fired up once in a while, to know that no matter how long I’ve written about this music, I’m still a fan and still love it passionately! 🙂

  2. Of the decade? Now you got my anticipation & expectations up. The last 2-3 mainline MTQ albums have been relatively ballad – heavy, so looking forward to the new stuff. Great people.

    • I’m well aware that a review like this can get people’s expectations up, so I try not to post a review this enthusiastic unless I’m reasonably confident that people who get the CD will either (a) agree with me or (b) think, “Even if it’s not quite my cup of tea, for stylistic or other reasons, I can see why people who like that style of music are so excited about it!”

  3. Thank you for your kind words Daniel. I am proud to be apart of this recording. Hope everyone loves it as much as you do!! Keep that passion my friend.

  4. Excellent review! I’ve enjoyed every MTQ project so far, and I’m very much looking forward to picking up a copy of this one!

  5. Hmm…sounds like I should go get this. Even without you’re glowing review, this sounded like a good one. You’ve just confirmed that for me. Thanks!

  6. Mark knows songs. I’m so happy for him and the guys and I cannot wait to get my “free” copy!

  7. Can’t wait to get mine in the mail now!

  8. I had my first listen to this project yesterday. I agree with your insights, evaluation, and summary, Daniel. This CD will be getting a lot of play time in my car!

  9. Great review, Daniel! I’m loving the Cd myself. Couldn’t agree more with your comment above regarding this music – love it passionately! 🙂

  10. Wow! Your first line word “masterpiece” caught me. I’m one that doesn’t always totally read CD reviews…more often just skim through them. I read every word of this one and I do plan to buy it. I’ve always like Mark Trammell and his music, so I’m looking forward to hearing it. I hope they get a #1 (or 2 of them) out of it!

  11. One more comment: Track 5 (“I’ll Go Over Jordan Someday”) is reminiscent of Gold City’s project “Amazing Grace: A Hymn Collection” from 2000—a gold standard of quality on many levels, in my opinion. Of course, there’s a common denominator… 🙂

  12. Hmmmm guess ill get this instead of some booth brother CDs

  13. Daniel, I am thrilled with your review! I have been excited about this project from the beginning, and your opinion of the songs means a lot to me. Michael is right…Mark does know songs; so I’m honored that he chose some of mine. I pray that the Lord will do great things through all the songs on the recording!

  14. I have to respectfully disagree on the best fast some Ms. Wilkinson has EVER written. Until it garners the recognition of “Boundless Love” I hold that as the gold standard.

    • Does recognition always equal best? 🙂

  15. Just from the short preview video MTQ posted, I knew “I’ll Take It To the Grave” was going to be a hit!

  16. Now if they’d make it available on Amazon MP3……….

  17. Thanks to my cousin Pam,( the new tenors Mom) I just received my copy.
    What a blessing!! Yes- God has been so faithful, & before I even read this review I knew it had to be Dustin singing on the last song.
    MTQ – You guys have truly outdone yourselves!

  18. Daniel, I was just looking at my MTQ collection, and I believe you missed that the guys did another album since becoming a quartet, they did Lifetime in 2012 with Eric Phillips, Nic Trammell, Mark, Trammell and Pat Barker. So, this would be the third album for them as a quartet. Not all that important, but worth mentioning. I am excited to hear the new offering

    • They’ve done several projects of classics; this is only their second mainline (a CD of new songs).

      • Oh, sorry, I thought you were indicating they were doing only the second CD, I missed the “mainline” when I read it. Thanks. 🙂

      • No problem!

  19. Your review convinced me to purchase the album. I just listened to it today, and I would have to say that “Man of Sorrows” is probably my favorite thus far. It reminds me a lot of “If Only Just A Few” from one of the previous albums. Oddly enough, the song also seems to have a sort of Christmas sound on the chorus to me. I’ve only went through the album once though, so we will see if that changes. Thanks for the review Daniel!

    • A Christmas sound on the chorus? That’s an interesting observation. I would never have thought of putting it that way.

      • It just has that Christmas choir sound on the chorus in my opinion. Maybe I’m just crazy haha

  20. What outlets will be carrying this project, if any? Amazon, Christianbook?

    • I’m sure Springside will carry the CD, and I’m sure it will be available for digital purchase on iTunes and AmazonMP3. Beyond that, I don’t know.