CD Review: Timeless (Roy Webb)
Rating: 5 stars (of 5)
Song List: Joyful Joyful We Adore Thee; A Mighty Fortress Is Our God / I Sing the Mighty Power of God; Old Rugged Cross; Old Time Religion / William Tell Overture; Come Thou Fount / There is a Fountain; Amazing Grace; Just As I Am; He Keeps Me Singing; Blessed Assurance; It is Well With My Soul.
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It has been nearly two years since Roy Webb left Signature Sound. (He left in May 2007.) He has since performed both solo concerts and select dates with the Booth Brothers, the Ball Brothers, and the Hoppers. But from a recording standpoint, he has kept a fairly low profile till this project. His last major project, You Raise Me Up, was released while he was still with Signature Sound. (I reviewed it in April 2007, here.)
The announcement that he’d signed with Song Garden came out a number of months ago. (It was by March, but I forget the exact date.) Webb didn’t rush to get a project out the door, though; he spent months working on his debut major-label project, Timeless. He brought in master craftsman Lari Goss to produce the project. Goss’s touch is especially evident on the big ballads like “Amazing Grace,” “It is Well,” and “Old Time Religion / William Tell Overture.” (The latter is an arrangement Goss originally wrote for Anthony Burger. Webb makes the arrangement his own in what is possibly the project’s strongest performance.)
Most of the songs are fully orchestrated, and those that aren’t are placed at strategic points within the song list. “Old Rugged Cross” provides a meditative slow point before the fast-paced “Old Time Religion / William Tell Overture,” and “Just As I Am” provides a similar “selah” moment after the majestic crescendos of “Amazing Grace” and before the swing-influenced “He Keeps Me Singing.” (Side note: The swing influence is highlighted to interesting effect. The background vocals at several points actually say “keeps me swinging as I go.” I didn’t notice that the first time through the CD, but once I did, I had to listen to those phrases a number of times to be sure my ears weren’t playing tricks on me.)
I’m giving this five stars. There’s just no reason not to. Even though I personally prefer vocal projects, my criteria for a 5-star project is taking a CD I know is good (I had already been planning to give this 4.5 stars) and asking, “Is there any way in which this particular artist could have released a better CD?” And, as the final notes of “It is Well” faded, I decided the answer was no. There’s not a flaw on this project. It is an impressive piece of art.