Joint Review: Free and Forgiven (Skyline Boys)
Composite Rating: 4 stars
Producer: Jeff Collins
- Daniel J. Mount (SouthernGospelBlog.com)
- Adam Edwards (SouthernGospelCritique.com)
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1. Movin’ Out Of Here
Daniel: Since the group doesn’t have any marquee voices yet—not to say that it may not be in their future—it makes sense to start the CD with an uptempo song featuring the group’s harmonies all the way through.
Adam: I first heard this song on a project by The Crossmen from 1995. This version by The Skyline Boys has been countrified from what I knew of the song. I’ve always loved this song and I wonder why it was never singled by The Crossmen. This has already been sent to radio stations as a single and should do well for the Skyline boys. Good start to the project!
2. Heaven Is Real
Daniel: Nitz’s solo and the descending chord progressions on the chorus make this one of the project’s most enjoyable tracks.
Adam: Solid track…mellow, but nice.
3. Oh What A Change
Daniel: Rob Nykamp sounds like Randy Shelnut.
Adam: What a great compliment for a lead singer…to be compared to Randy Shelnut. Nycamp is a treat to listen to. This track should do well in a live setting.
4. Look For Me
Adam: Classic song performed in the classic tune. It’s a good version, but like a few other tracks on the project, it lacks originality.
5. I Can’t Wait For Heaven
Adam: Strong rendition of the song. I really liked this cut.
Daniel: Signature Sound never singled the song, and didn’t regularly stage it for long after the next album was out. This is a good example of a recycled song—unlike a song like “Glory to God in the Highest,” where a group’s rendition will be compared up against a current mega-group’s rendition, most of the concert attendees and many of the fans purchasing the CD will not be familiar with Signature Sound’s rendition, so the song may as well be new, as far as they are concerned.
6. Mercy River
Daniel: Actually, Bobby Nitz has the first verse. Hosterman sings the second. Their voices are probably the strongest two in the group, so it’s a nice pairing.
Adam: Strong vocals on this slow track. The Skyline Boys have a really smooth sound.
7. Glory To God In The Highest
Daniel: Cover songs fall into three categories:
- Classics. These are songs that have been around for years. Practically every group has sung them, and practically every fan knows them.
- Recycled songs. These are songs that a group (often a major group) cut but never singled. Typically, after a year or two, groups phase these songs out of their programs, and other groups sometimes pick them up.
- Covers of another groups’ hit song.
Even though a couple of groups—Inspirations, Brian Free & Assurance, Old Friends Quartet, and Signature Sound—have recorded the song, the song is too recent to fall into category 1. So I’d place it in Category 3. What makes this slightly odd is that it’s typically only the local and regional groups that cover other groups’ recent hits.
A good rule of thumb is to avoid covering another group’s recent hit, unless you can either top their version or do one in the same league, perhaps with your own distinctive twist. Thus, a note-for-note remake is a little surprising to find on a national label release.
Adam: Another track with little originality to it. It’s enjoyable, but predictable. If you like the song, you’ll like this track.
8. Don’t Drink The Water
Adam: This was my favorite track from the project (Track #1 is my second pick). I think this would also make a great single for radio.
9. Joy For The Journey
Adam: Another solid cut.
10. The Blood On My Hands
Adam: WOW…what a powerful song! Of the slower paced songs on the album, this one outshines them all by far.
Daniel: I’d agree. There’s a number of songs on here they could single, but this is one they should single.
11. Bonus Cut: Oh What A Change (Reprise)
Adam: A different take on at least the verse would have been cool. I would really like to hear this track in person.
Daniel: Crossroads has made several good moves lately, bringing on several groups that deserve to be on a national label. It’s not that the CD doesn’t show room for growth, for example, as other reviewers have said, Dennis Powers isn’t the next Tim Duncan, and the group could probably have found a song that better fit his voice (perhaps a modern harmony song with more a melodic than an oomph bass part). Yet the group is strong, individually and as an ensemble, and the CD is enjoyable.
Adam: The Skyline Boys keep getting better with each new release. This CD is a very strong effort under their new Crossroads label. Jodi Hosterman really shines with this group and it a great complimentary tenor to the smooth vocals of Rob Nycamp, Bobby Nitz & Dennis Powers. Crossroads made a wise choice with this quartet and this new project is the groups’ strongest to date. Free & Forgiven was a pleasure to review.