CD Review: Hold On (Dove Brothers)

dbRating: 3.5 stars (of 5)

Average Song Rating: 3.2 stars (of 5)

Members: Jerry Martin (tenor), McCray Dove (lead), Eric Dove (baritone), David Hester (bass), Jerry Kelso (pianist).

Song List: Hold On; I’m Gonna Rise; Leavin’ On My Mind; When I Wake Up in the Morning; He’s Gonna Smile on Me; A Little Good News; Back to Egypt; Little David; Jesus, He’s Everything to Me; He’s Sending Miracles.

Available From: Label, Artist.

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When the Dove Brothers released Anything But Ordinary, Everything but Typical in 2005, fans and industry insiders recognized that the album was indeed exactly what its title suggested for the group. It was quite the departure from the group’s classic traditional-quartet sound that had brought them to the top in the genre. What wasn’t immediately clear was whether the experiment would catch on, and whether their fans would follow them and warm to the new style. Evidently, enough of their fans liked the new style for the experiment to be a success, because Hold On is the Dove Brothers’ fourth project in this style.

As always, the Dove Brothers include a few tracks that pay stylistic tribute to their roots. “When I Wake Up in the Morning” and “I’m Gonna Rise” are solid uptempo quartet songs. David Hester delivers a stellar rendition of the Rusty Goodman classic “Leavin’ on my Mind.”

The track on this project that has already sparked the most discussion is their cover of the 1970s Oak Ridge Boys song “He’s Gonna Smile on Me.” Lyrically, the song is a rather interesting choice for inclusion on a Gospel project: “If I just say my prayers at night / And keep living right / He’s gonna smile on me.”

In another nod to country music, the Dove Brothers cover Anne Murray’s “A Little Good News.” The song was the title track of a project that won Murray won Album of the Year in the 1984 Country Music Association Awards. Though the lyrics of the original song do not reference Christianity,  Dove Brothers preface and conclude the song by singing the line, “You know, the Gospel is the good news needed today.”

I would point to the project’s most obvious standout tracks as “Leavin’ On My Mind” and “Back to Egypt.” The latter, in particular, would probably make a good choice for a radio single.

After several years of bringing back the quartet classics of yesteryear, the Dove Brothers intentionally shifted course to start making their own mark. And in a genre where any given group frequently has a number of groups that have a similar sound, the Dove Brothers have been consistent enough over the last few years that their albums have an immediately recognizable sound. Anyone familiar with their last few albums could listen to practically any 5 or 10 second clip from this project and know it was the Dove Brothers—and this sort of distinctiveness pays off.


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38 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. The original Oaks lyric to “He’s Gonna Smile on Me” hearkened back even more toward a works-based theology:

    “If I just say my prayers at night / And treat people right / He’s gonna smile on me.”

    • Didn’t know that. Interesting!

  2. Man Daniel, you’re getting tough on your reviews these days. What was your reasoning for a 3.5? Was it the country remakes or the quality? What gives?

    • Well, I can’t give everything 4 or 5! 😉 I have to throw in a 3.5 in at least occasionally.

    • Oh – and my last 5 ratings prior to this were 5, 4.5, 4, 4, and 5.

      3.5 isn’t a bad rating – still a full star above 2.5, which should be average (but in truth seems to be a rating I’ve never actually handed out yet. I guess if it’s 2.5 or below, I just don’t rate it.)

  3. I have to say that a lot of songs from the Oaks were “on the edge”-even the songs from when they only did SG. I have a copy of “Calvary, Dallas, Memphis, LA”, and that song is odd.

  4. Don’t get me wrong I don’t think 3.5 is a bad rating, but it would be considered right above avearage, right? I’m just asking what you think would’ve made the project better? I haven’t heard it, I was just inquiring on your opinion.

    • Well, a full star above average.

      As to what would have made it better …

      The next “I Can Pray”?

      Or if not that, say the next “Get Away Jordan” or “Didn’t it Rain”?

  5. Thanks for the rating Daniel but let me point something out to you. You will never find another Getaway or Rain. It will be even harder to find another Pray. The key is to find something that is a hit but stands on its own.

    Smile on me is a thought and should make everyone think about it. We believe that God is going to smile on his children when we treat people right, we even added the line Living right. Because we believe that when we live for Jesus he is smiling on his children just like I smile on my children when they do right or make me proud. Is it in the Bible maybe not but it is a thought. Kids love this song we got a email last week that said they bought the cd and listen on the way home. When they got home and got out of the car their three year old was singing smile on me.

    I don’t know about you but I rather have kids singing a song like smile on me than singing “Shake your Booty”. Or songs about drugs or Sex and the junk that is out there today. I want GOD to smile on me and I pray that you do

    • That’s an interesting perspective, and thanks for your comments! I think I understand better where you’re coming from now.

  6. “He’s Gonna Smile On My” has actually made me think about my life. I’ve been treated like an idiot a lot, and I hate it. But as I listened to the sng, I pondered what it meant. As I though about the words, I thought, “It’s a song of encouragement. Though the world treats us like fools and tries to snuff us out, if we keep ‘doing our thing’ God’s going to smile down on us”.

    • It never ceases to amaze at critic’s reactions when the Dove Brothers cover an old classic. For example, The GVB covers New Wine, Oh My Lord What A Time and a host of others, Signature Sound covers Get away Jordan made popular not only by the Statesmen, it was The Dove Brothers Quartet who actually brought the song back to life. Yet each time the Doves cover a song critics do what they do best.

      As for my favorite song on the project “He’s Gonna Smile on Me” becoming a target of controversy let us be real careful that we are not hypocritical and discriminate.

      For example, did 10,000 Angels really cry?
      Is Ed O Neal really sending up some boards?
      Is the there really A Royal Telephone?
      Did they really have to search heaven to find the Saviour? (O What A Saviour)

      I could go on all night but I hope we all are smart enough to realize most songs are not actually scriptural.

      I wonder if the song “He’s Gonna Smile on Me” was an issue back when the Oaks recorded it?

      What really amazes me is how a country group like The Oaks can appear at the NQC or Gaither’s Homecoming and everyone cheers yet this little song has folks in an uproar?

      Did anyone get in an uproar when Gold City sang Elvira with the Oaks?

      Ricky Scaggs a country artist was special guest at The NQC—Is all his material scriptural?

      I try to look at lyrics from the writers point of view. What is the message he or she is trying point out.

      One song that comes to mind that has been beat and battered for years is “Just Build Me a Cabin in Corner of Glory”

      To me the writer was simply saying the mansions, the streets of gold are not important just get me to heaven.

      Could it be this particular writer assumed we are already saved and Jesus smiles on us when we do good deeds and say our prayers?

      Could all these little quirks folks have be some of the reasoning groups like The Oaks move on?

      I am glad groups like The Dove Brother’s Quartet as well as others bring back classics.

      I have heard David Hester sing Leaving on my Mind since he was 16 years old and I am thrilled they recorded it on this project—-

      I am confident this project will be big for The Doves as in most cases critics seldom purchase anything, but fans who love their material do.

      • Most songs are not scriptural?

        That’s a pretty broad charge—and one that (in our genre at least) would be fairly hard to support, at least in my opinion.

  7. I just returned from GOGR where I purchased Hold On by DBQ. Obviously I’m not an expert but a 3.5??? It’s a good thing they didn’t record “Freedom For the Stallion” (which was also on the ORB project that contained “He’s Gonna Smile on Me.”

  8. YES. The Bible says they searched through heaven and found only one who was worthy. It is dealing with the end times, but there is a reference to searching for a saviour. I heard this song at the GOGR and was disgusted. We are saved through faith. NOT WORKS!!! Did Joel Osteen write this piece of theological junk. The Dixie Echoes have not recorded a new song in who knows when, but they were by far the most popular group this weekend, along with the melody boys. By the way the 70’s were the worst time possible for Gospel music. Why dip into that garbage can of songs.

    • Thanks for the info. Can you give me the exact scripture that supports the following?

      Once I was straying in sin’s dark valley
      No hope within could I see
      They searched thru heaven, and found a savior
      To save a poor lost soul like me.

      • Charles Billingsley, a CCM artist and worship leader at Thomas Road Baptist, changed the words on Oh What a Savior…. He sang:

        Once I was straying in sin’s dark valley
        No hope within could I see
        Then came my Savior, my precious Savior
        To save a poor lost soul like me.

        I appreciated it because the lyrics are actually, as you point out, not sound there.

        Had It Not Been does the same thing in the first line…

        “Just suppose God searched through heaven and couldn’t find one willing to be…”

        Dale, you’re not the only one that notices it… nor the only one that is bothered by poor doctrine in some of these, otherwise, great southern gospel songs. I do find it ironic, though, that CCM gets slammed for poor doctrine when it is present in SG music. That said, in any genre of Christian Music, I imagine it is difficult to write lyrics that the Methodist, Charismatic, Southern Baptist, etc… would all call sound doctrine. ???

    • If one is already saved do you think God smiles on a person for treating people right and saying prayers at night?

      By the way I heard one song that said 10,000 angels cried while the other one said “No Tears in Heaven” which is correct?

  9. Whoa, I have not heard the entire song, but I don’t think the quoted phrase is enough in itself to call it “heretical” (and I’m not saying anyone has said that). As McCray said, the song is only referring to people who are already saved. I can remember one time when the Lord had helped me to help someone else, and as I was driving home, I felt His smile very plainly.

    OK, I went to the DBQ website and listened to it. (Are they really all still under thirty? 😀 ) I think that the “say my prayers at night” seems less appropriate than the other, as the world frequently takes “saying one’s prayers” pretty lightly. However, I think we need to be careful about accusing a group of cheapening their doctrine on the basis of one song which doesn’t include the whole of Christian doctrine. Seriously, my mom tries to fault Rodney Griffin’s “As I Am” because it doesn’t describe everything that’s involved in accepting God (His laws, repentance, justice, etc.).
    I believe if a group’s “repertoire” as a whole supports Christian doctrines, then an individual song ought to be taken in that context. “You gotta be born again” was on the last DBQ CD that I bought. “Smile On Me” neglects to mention that, for better or worse, but I don’t think it negates the doctrine…. Anyway, that’s my opinion. Maybe they do need to be careful how they set it up in concert.

    • By no means was I taking issue with the doctrine in all the Dove Brothers’ songs … just that one. As far as I know, everything else they’ve recorded is fine.

      • I didn’t mean to say you were. I’m just saying that if the song is taken as applying to people who are saved, even though it doesn’t specifically say that within the song itself, I didn’t notice anything really truly wrong within it. It might not be one that I would choose to record, but that’s a different matter. And I think that the general tenor of the DBQ’s music (no, I’m not referring to Jerry Martin 😉 ) supports that interpretation.
        Also, I think that it is impossible to “keep living right” (or even really to “treat people right”) without being saved. I think that DBQ’s decision to change the lyrics there was a wise choice if they were going to sing it, and showed that they weren’t trying to skimp on sound doctrine.

        I didn’t feel like you were criticizing it, and I do agree that it’s an “interesting” decision. Some criticism has been pretty strong, though.

      • Now that’s an angle that makes me re-think what I said. I guess I can see where it is impossible to truly live right and treat people right unless you’re saved, and in that light, I can see where that song would fit on a CD whose primary audience, after all, is people who are already saved.

      • Well, it may be splitting hairs, but that is fun to do sometimes. 🙂

      • I sure the discussion here or the rating here will not make or break the success of The project. However, I am glad this issued was disscussed. I would also like to point out that “O What A Saviour” is one of my all time favorites . I am not caught up in the small details or verbage in songs as long as the intent is good. I used those songs as examples to show that as I stated earlier most gospel songs are not scriptual if we pick them apart. It just puzzled me why this particular song was getting so much attention when in fact, I could have easily named an additional 50 songs that could be picked apart.

        Ten of us could read a passage of scripture in the bible and get 20 different opinions.

        Songs writers use examples like 10,000 angels cried to say it was a sad time or Sending up boards in relation to good works and deeds . It is like a parable in a song created by the writer.

        I will close on this note just prove how silly quirks can get.

        This is a true story.
        A minister preached a sermon on the prodigal’s son and told how the Father placed a ring on his son’s finger.

        At the end of the service a gentleman shook the minister’s hand and informed him that the bible plainly states the Father placed a ring on the son’s hand.

        Let us not make mountains out of mole hills.

        How many times have we said it rained cats and dogs today?—-LOL

  10. So is 3.5 supposed to be a bad rating? In my book it’s still above average (by 20%, in fact) … average being 2.5.

    Granted, I’ve rated other Dove Brothers albums higher – 4 (I think) and 4.5 (http://www.southerngospeljournal.com/archives/37) – but I still think this CD is pretty good, pretty solid.

    “Leavin’ On My Mind,” alone, is worth the price of the CD, and then some. I hadn’t realized how well David Hester could pull off a Rusty Goodman solo, and now I’m hoping for more.

    • If one converts the 3.5 out of 5 to percent, that’s 70%. In academics that’s a D. So if you were grading this on an scale of A-F, would you say this is a D???

      • I’d been thinking more towards C+. But maybe I wasn’t actually converting that toward stars well. I’ve liked other of their projects better, but there’s a lot that’s worse out there. (Overall, I *did* like the CD!)

      • Well, in the academics I just graduated from, it would be a C- or about that. (70%).

      • I guess grading scales vary from one college to another. In my 31 years as a college professor, the scale in our department was 70-76 D, 77-84 C, 85-92 B and 93-100 A.

      • Yeah, I agree with that, but out here in the Midwest I have only seen a rougher grading scale than 90-80-70-60 one time in the last four years, from one professor – she upped it a couple of points and then graded way too easy!

        Which is way off-topic, but I’ll quit now.

  11. I’ve listened to Hold On just about everyday on their website and am waiting until they come to PA this Saturday to purchase it. In my opinion, Anything But Ordinary was an album that would be almost impossible to top. For me at least, because the Dove Brothers are my favorite group hands down. Well, they’ve done it with Hold On.

  12. Psalm 119:135

  13. I like “He’s Gonna Smile On Me”. The song is a whole lot simpler than we’re making it out to be here.

    I like the new CD. Played it several times already. I like where McCray sings like George Jones.

    Thank you Ms. Sarah for your compliment towards MBQ. We sure had a great weekend. You’re such a sweetheart.

  14. Freedom For The Stallion!!!!!!!!!!

    • You mean freedom for the mare and the colt?

  15. Typical Allen,

    If Gaither or some country artist had brought the song back it would not be an issue. However, the fans will decide and my guess is this will be The Dove’s biggest project ever. So people get ready there’s a train a coming.

  16. Love that 70’s stuff including the Alain Toussaint song:

    “Freedom for the stallion
    Freedom for the mare and her colt
    Freedom for the baby child
    Who has not grown old enough to vote.
    Lord, have mercy, what you gonna do about the people who are praying to you?
    They got men making laws that destroy other men,
    They’ve made money “God”
    It’s a doggone sin,
    Oh, Lord, you got to help us find the way.”

    That first Oaks album on Columbia also included covers of Paul Simon’s “Loves Me Like a Rock” and the country song “Baptism of Jesse Taylor” recorded by Johnny Russell

  17. I believe the “Hold On “album to be the best project yet ! We play it every time we get in the car.Every song is awesome. I especially love erics “He’s Gonna smile On Me” . Sometimes christians try too hard to tear apart words. God loves us no matter what but the bible teaches us to strive to please Him . To me that is what the lyrics are stating. Who doesn’t strive to be in the perfect will of God ? Keep up the good work Doves ! You were great at NQC. God Bless.