Joint Review: Free and Forgiven (Skyline Boys)

Composite Rating: 4 stars

Producer: Jeff Collins
Label: Crossroads

Contributing bloggers:

Click read the rest of the this post for the full text.

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:

  1. Classics. These are songs that have been around for years. Practically every group has sung them, and practically every fan knows them.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

For more about —and other Southern Gospel news and commentary—follow our RSS feed or sign up for our email updates!

16 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. Its not what I expected from a group on main stage at NQC. Nycamp does good but after one or two songs, you get tired of the inflections he puts on a dong. Jodi does a great job on the traditional songs as always. Powers is the wink link by far. I heard that Nycamp quit and Powers is moving to baritone, letting Nitz go. Ive never really thought of them as a “mainstage” group. It could have to do with how they got on at NQC and with Crossroads.

    • If that’s true it’s too bad…I really liked Nitz’s voice.

  2. I don’t think that is true. Bobby does an awesome job and I don’t think he is being let go.

  3. Hey Paul. Thanks for commenting on our album. I would like to correct something you said though. Rob Nykamp has left the group but I have no idea where you would hear that we were letting Bob Nitz go. Did you ever think to send us an e-mail to find out if this was true before you would post a comment like that? We’re pretty easy to find and that point could have been cleared up in about 10 seconds. Your opinions on our singing are your own and you are welcome to them. I just wish that people were a little more responsible about what they post.

  4. I believe it to be true becase your owner called a friend of mine and asked him to come sing bass. He said he was going back to baritone and finding a new lead singer. I assumed it was public knowledge, I apologize if you didnt know. It wasnt meant to be mean. Just because I dont enjoy someones music doesnt mean others dont but do groups think when they send out a cd for review everyone is going to like it?

  5. Jodi, thanks for clearing that up!

    So Bob Nitz is still with the group?

  6. Hey, someone is using my screen name…guess I’ll have to change mine to Rudy or something…ha, ha.

    • How about Paul the Concert Guy? 😉

  7. Hey folks, regarding my employment status with the SBQ, I have no knowledge of it being in question. Rob left the group to pursue solo work and for a few dates I moved to lead and Dennis sang a few songs at Baritone, but mostly we attempted a “sick trax” sort of thing, (for the missing part). Toby Siler is singing lead now and we have never had a better sound. It remains to be seen whether he can make it work since he is about eight hours from the bus. Perhaps Dennis has been thinking of alternatives in case that doesn’t happen. I’m a “pain in the neck” when it comes to perfecting things, when a note is not correct or the dynamics could be better, I usually speak up, so maybe he has had all of that he can stand. Years of standing in front of the choir and orchestra and arranging for our own family group have made me tough when it comes to “doing it right” though I endeavor to have a sweet spirit in my approach, I’ve gotten off the point, but seriously, I think there is a misunderstanding.

  8. “Paul the Concert Guy” it is!

  9. Paul, I am aware of the situation with your friend the bass singer. What was discussed with him was a scenario where he would come on board to help us fill dates as a quartet if our current lead singer didn’t take the job permanently. We are still in limbo regarding his decision so anything could happen. I am also not so naive to believe that everyone would like our music. There is no one in the business who can claim a 100% approval rating. Not even your favorite group. A lot of people do like our music and you consider yourself one who does not. I don’t have a problem with that. As I said before, your opinion is yours and you are welcome to it. If you read my earlier comment, I never mentioned being upset that you didn’t like the CD. As a matter of fact, I am glad that you at least listened to it before drawing a conclusion.

    Bob Nitz is our baritone singer (at least he was when I got off the bus Sunday night) and will continue in that role for the forseeable future. That’s the problem when someone posts something as fact. Others read it and, pretty soon, the rumor mill is in full swing yet again. I am just asking for a little responsibility when we are talking about these kinds of issues.

  10. Hey all, I had a conversation this afternoon with Dennis Powers (owner of the Skyline Boys) he confirmed what I thought happened and as it turns out this is a big mix up! After learning about Rob leaving the group, we talked about how we would handle things. One scenario was for me to move to lead, Dennis to Baritone (temporarily) and bring in a Bass singer. A well know name was mentioned and I am told he was willing to do it. In the mean time, we learned that Toby Siler (what a great guy) was interested in the lead part. I’m not “cracking any chops” over this, you would have to know me to know that either way this would not change who I am or place in jeopardy my life style. I am blessed to own a very successful business, but I do find it interesting that those who are in-trusted to accuracy and professionalism would risk hurting their credibility by reporting this kind of thing without first going to the source. Sorry if this comes across as “holier than thou” but I try not to repeat things I cannot personally confirm. It’s an honest mistake and hopefully we can all let it go and by friends. I do hope there is room for our hard work to be recognized. I basically think the review is fair, so thanks for your thoughts. We should always strive to make the next one even better. Love the work you do for Southern Gospel and pray blessings on you all.

    Bob(by) Nitz (my mama calls me Bob Jr.)

  11. That’s “be friends”, not “by friends”, guess I stick to what I do and let you guys do the writing.

    Bob Nitz

    • You know, I really feel like I should apologize to everyone here (especially y’all from the Skyline Boys) for letting that comment go up. My mind has been elsewhere today – this site started the day on one server and is finishing it on another – but that’s really no excuse at all. I try to be more careful with the comments I let go up, and please accept my apologies for letting this one slip through the cracks.

  12. Sorry for responses from 2 members of the group. We don’t mean to beleager the point of all this. We’re just trying to shed some light on something that normally would not see the light of day. As far as I am concerned Daniel, no apology from you is necessary. I know that you run a clean site as I visit often. We’ve just run in to a situation that could have been avoided with a small amount of additional effort. It isn’t your responsibility to police everything that comes across your site. We, as posters and commenters, need to be working toward a more positive approach rather than resorting to “tabloid journalism.” This kind of thing becomes destructive and perceptions are created unfairly when facts are treated loosely. Unfortunately, even when a friend tells you something, it can’t always be repeated as fact.

  13. Well, I’m sorry to hear that Rob has left but I’m very pleased that Bobby hasn’t!! I’m watching the schedule to see when The Skyline Boys are gonna be back in – or near – Georgia.