Joint Review: Sounds of Faith (Paid In Full)

Composite Rating: 3.3 stars

Label: Song Garden Music Group
Song List: “At Calvary,” “Living For Jesus,” “The Love Of God,” “Redeemed,” “Unclouded Day,” “What A Friend We Have In Jesus,” “Higher Ground,” “Old Rugged Cross,” “Are You Washed In The Blood,” and “Blessed Assurance”

Website: http://www.paidinfull.net

Contributers:

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

1. At Calvary
Aaron Swain: The album opens up with an acoustic guitar-driven rendition of the old hymn. It actually sounds like a bluegrass group, which I don’t mind at all! It brought to mind the image of three friends on a back porch somewhere “a-swingin’ and a-singin'”, much in the style of an Andy Griffith Show episode. Good way to open up the album.

Wes Burke: Nice up-tempo acoustic arrangement of this track. Nothing flashy, but some smooth vocals here.

Daniel Mount: A bluegrass-tinged soundtrack and a tight blend make this one of the project’s most enjoyable tracks.

2. Living For Jesus
Aaron: The album’s second cut is another guitar driven song, but with more a country tinge to it. The tempo is far too slow for my taste; I find myself wanting to hit the “up-tempo” arrow that you find on some keyboards.

Wes: I’ll disagree with Aaron here. I kinda like this song, they have created a new arrangement, and changed the melody of the hymn somewhat to fit the arrangement. The tempo is actually probably a little faster than how we traditionally do this hymn. Pretty solid cut.

Daniel: I’m with Wes; I didn’t find the tempo too slow. It is just right.

3. The Love Of God
Aaron: Another bluegrassy song, which looks to be the theme off this album thus far. One of the better renditions I’ve heard of this hymn.

Wes: Continues the mountain gospel theme so far on the recording. Not bad at all.

Daniel: This is one of my favorite tracks from the project. For some reason, though, it seems like adding in the song’s bass part – which happens to be one of the nicest bass parts I’ve heard – would have pushed it up another notch. Even though I’m not a bass and typically sing along with the baritone or tenor, I found myself humming and then singing that missing part.

Brandon Coomer: This is the first song to feature the group’s new tenor, Brock White.

4. Redeemed
Aaron: A slowed down version of the hymn that sounds sort of like an arrangement the Gaither Vocal Band would do. It’s an OK rendition, but nothing that particularly makes me want to go back and listen again.

Wes: I don’t hear the GVB influence that Aaron does, but this is a decent cut. I do like the use of unison on the last verse. The tempo to me is ok, it may be slowed down a little bit, but not very much.

5. Unclouded Day
Aaron: The album picks up with a barn-burner on this track. I love the fast songs, and the guitars and fiddles are to good effect.

Wes: This is a good version of this song. I like this better than the version Ricky Atkinson and Compassion did on their latest CD. The best cut on the album.

6. What A Friend We Have In Jesus
Aaron: Another far too slow arrangement. I mean, how much can you hold out each phrase? Didn’t like this one at all.

Wes: I’m not so sure that the tempo is the problem here. The tempo actually seems to be fine, but they’ve really broadened out the vocal phrasing. Some really nice harmony and vocals are brought down by an arrangement that is too broad throughout the entire song and hence makes the song sound like it is dragging.

Daniel: While it wouldn’t have hurt the track if the tempo had been picked up a little, I didn’t mind this pace. I haven’t heard a group do the song quite this way before, so I have to give them credit for experimenting here.

7. Higher Ground
Aaron: A decent rockabilly arrangement. Kind of got too twangy on the chorus, though.

Wes: This is fairly similar to the arrangement Ponder, Sykes, and Wright did a while back. Decent cut, but just a little too twangy for me, as well. I agree with Aaron here.

Brandon: Woody Wright is a big influence on the group, so it isn’t surprising for them to record something similar sounding to Ponder, Sykes, and Wright. I’m not usually a big fan of the “twang,” but I think this is kind of catchy.

8. Old Rugged Cross
Aaron: A slow rendition, but on this song, it makes it a bit more powerful to have it slow. This is an OK track.

Wes: This is an decent version of the song, but the arrangement is rather bland.

9. Are You Washed In The Blood
Aaron: A nice bluegass version of this song. Just the right tempo, and a decent cut.

Wes: Decent uptempo cut on this song. Not really fond of the ending, but it’s a decent enough cut.

Daniel: The bluegrass influences that are somewhat subdued on some of the other tracks come out in full force here for an enjoyable banjo and fiddle-led arrangement.

Brandon: I guess it is because I’m not a bluegrass fan, but I would not call the bluegrass influence on this project “subdued”. To me, it is pretty much right out front. I thought this was a very good track until the ending, which kind of killed it for me.

10. Blessed Assurance
Aaron: The album closes out with yet another slow song. It’s a very quiet tune, and it’s a nice way to finish.

Wes: Now this song works with the acoustic sound. It really gives them a chance to showcase their blend. One of the better cuts on the album.

Brandon: I love this song and this arrangement is a great way to end the project.

Summary

Aaron: The latest table project from 2007’s Horizon Group Of The Year is by no means a bad project, but it’s not good either. For example, many of the arrangements of these old songs seemed to drag on and on. I am not familiar with Paid In Full’s major releases, but from what I remember from their NQC mainstage performance, this album is not a good representation of how good the group is.

Wes: This is a solid 3 star recording. The acoustic, mountain gospel style is maintained throughout, and places the emphasis more on Paid In Full’s smooth blend and harmonies. This is a very safe project, in that there is nothing out of the ordinary in the arrangements. It’s just solid singing all the way through on an enjoyable project. The only downside to this, however, is that all the songs start sounding alike long about track 4 or so. Paid In Full definitely has the vocal ability to do more. This is pretty standard fare for a table project, but I’m looking more forward to reviewing a new mainline release from them, and hearing them challenge themselves a bit more musically. Daniel makes a good point in his summary about this disc definitely fulfilling its purpose as a table project. There’s nothing here that knocks your socks off, but nothing that has you reaching for the skip button, either. It’s just a good, solid project.

Daniel: Too often, mainline releases are driven by churning out radio-friendly tunes or following standard formulas for a big ballad or patriotic number. Free from those pressures, Paid in Full turned out an album that is just simply enjoyable—the kind you put in the CD player when you want to kick back in the recliner on a Sunday afternoon reading a good book or watching the clouds go by. This album is exactly what a table project should be.

Brandon: I’ve kept my individual track comments to a minimum, because most of what I have to say is about the project has a whole. From the other contributors’ comments, I gather that they were not expecting the bluegrass/mountain/acoustic feel found on this project. This project is the third in Paid In Full’s “Down Home” series of table projects (Sounds Of The Season and Sounds Of Home are the other releases). The “Down Home” series features more of the bluegrass acoustic feel than the group’s mainline recordings. While I am a huge fan of Paid In Full, I am not a big fan of this style of music. However, this project excites me because, from what the other contributors have written, the group pulls off what I believe they hoped to accomplish. The “Down Home” series isn’t supposed to be big budget recordings with fancy arrangements and hit singles. The project is arranged to let the lyrics and vocals take center stage. I love what Aaron said about the first track, “It brought to mind the image of three friends on a back porch somewhere “a-swingin’ and a-singin.” I think that is part of the charm of the project. Does this project showcase Paid In Full at their best? No, I don’t feel that it does, but even if you don’t enjoy the mountain/acoustic style of music presented here, the project is an enjoyable one.


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