Joint Review: From the Heart (Lakeside)

Composite Rating: 3.4 stars

Label: Homeplace Records
Producers: The Eddie Crook Company
Song List: “I Can’t Help Smiling,” “Upon The Cross,” “Jesus Loves Me,” “I’ll Have A Mansion,” “I Want To See Jesus,” “Oh Lord, I Love You,” “Give Him My Heart,” “The Man I Need To Be,” “Feed My Sheep,” and “His Love”

Website: http://www.lakesidegospel.com

Contributers:

Click “Read the Rest of This Entry” for the full review.

1. I Can’t Help Smiling

David Bruce Murray: This quick paced bluegrass song is a combination of good picking (especially Greg Blankenship’s mandolin), so-so vocal harmony, and average songwriting. This is a trend for the entire CD. The tempos do vary from one track to the next, but otherwise, when you’ve heard one of these songs, you’ve essentially heard them all.

Adam Edwards: This group can play. Good instrumentation is what bluegrass gospel is all about.

Daniel Mount: Nice lyric and vocal, excellent instrumentation. The group does a good job of planning the solo instrumentals so as to not get in one another’s way.

2. Upon The Cross

Adam: Musically, I like this song better than the previous track, but the verses seem to be missing something. I think some background vocals would have greatly enhanced this track.

Daniel: This song features the tenor. He seems to vocally emulate a Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver / Primitive Quartet tenor style. It’s a good song, one I could envision working just as well in a non-bluegrass arrangement as it does here.

3. Jesus Loves Me

Adam: I like the feel of this song, but it’s another that feels weak lyrically. The verses were good, but the chorus seemed too short. The message of the song was good.

4. I’ll Have A Mansion

Adam: This is one of my favorite tracks from the project. This song makes you tap your foot.

Daniel: This driving, energetic bluegrass number features the banjo and fiddle prominently. I might be revealing my ignorance of Quicksilver’s discography by saying this, since there is a chance they’ve already done the song, but if this song is original to this group it’s good enough that I could easily see an established bluegrass group picking it up.

5. I Want To See Jesus

DBM: This song stands out from the rest of the CD due to the fact that it’s a cappella. The pitches are more precise on this cut. Is it due to artificial pitch correction? Perhaps. It’s just puzzling why the same level of attention wasn’t given to the harmonies on other cuts. If instruments had been added to this vocal arrangement to cover up some of the pitch range issues, it would have been a stand out track for this CD.

Adam: One of the more enjoyable tracks from the project. A cappella numbers seem to be a bluegrass standard and Lakeside doesn’t disappoint with this cut. Good song.

6. Oh Lord, I Love You

Adam: I really like the slap bass on the intro to this song. That grabbed my attention first thing. Musically, this song is great but weak vocals and lyrics really detract from this song.

7. Give Him My Heart

DBM: “Give Him My Heart” slows down the pace and adds a shaker sound for a percussion element. Unfortunately, the lyrics are awkward…too many syllables for some phrases, and predictable rhymes.

Adam: OK song. Not a stand-out track on this project, but the vocalist has a pleasing tone to his voice.

Daniel: I’m guessing this might be the baritone. Unlike the tenor and lead, he evidently spends his practice sessions working more on developing a pleasant tone then to seeing how high he can sing…and it shows.

8. The Man I Need To Be

Adam: Everyone except for the bass singer takes the lead on this song. The upbeat flow to this song is catchy.

Daniel:
An enjoyable track.

9. Feed My Sheep

DBM: Again, an otherwise good track suffers from mediocre and sometimes confusing lyrics. The opening verse is:
“Christ is speaking. ‘Who have ears let them hear. Go into this world and feed my sheep.’ Precious is his flock whom he loves so dear, that he laid down His life through His blood, sweat and tears.” The second verse ends with, “When you meet them will you feed them? My loving word with them please share, so they’ll know me when they see me when they meet me in the air.”

There’s more to writing a song than simply finding phrases that rhyme.

Adam: When I first saw the title of the song, I was hoping that this group was redoing the song of the same title that the Primitive quartet recorded 25+ years ago. To say this song was a disappointment was an understatement. It’s an OK song but it was my least favorite from the project.

10. His Love

DBM: The minor key on this cut is a nice touch, the instrumental breaks are effective, and the songwriting quality is higher than what we’ve heard up to this point. All in all, “His Love” is a good closing number for From Our Heart.

Adam: I hope that Lakeside singles this song. It sounds like they saved the best track for last. I love the raspy tone on the lead vocals and the musicianship stands out on this track. Great finish to the album!

Daniel: I agree with David and Adam – this song is one of the project’s highlights.

Summary

DBM: Like many bluegrass groups, Lakeside’s greatest strength is their musicianship. If you appreciate good picking, you’ll want to give this CD a few spins. On some spots, I did notice that they weren’t entirely in sync, but overall, these guys are good players…both on individual breakout solos and as an ensemble. The group’s weaknesses lie in the areas of singing quality (harmonizing in particular) and songwriting. Both of these facets are decent, but could stand improvement. Musically, there’s some interesting things going on, but the lyrics of these songs aren’t particularly memorable. The raw talent is there, but a more involved producer helping the group find their own voice with more original songs would have been a major plus. My rating for From Our Heart is 3 Stars.

Adam: This was my first exposure to Lakeside. These guys are good musicians and I imagine that in a live setting, they are quite enjoyable. From Our Heart is a fairly strong effort from the group. I would like to see them in concert sometime. My rating for this project is 3.5 stars.

Daniel: While this project might not fall on a short list of this year’s “must buys,” many fans of bluegrass Gospel will enjoy it.


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