CD Review: When You Look at Me (Kingdom Heirs)
Rating: 4.5 stars (of 5)
Average Song Rating: 4.3 stars (of 5)
Members: Billy Hodges (tenor), Arthur Rice (lead), Steve French (baritone), Jeff Chapman (bass), Andy Stringfield (piano), Kreis French (baritone), Dennis Murphy (drums).
Song List: On the Gloryland Way; Biblically Correct; He Locked the Gates; Help Me Lord; Fire Away; Turnin’ Loose; As Good as I Can Be; Steppin’ On the Stars; When the Story of My Life is Told; Jesus Showed Up; When You Look at Me; The Empty Tomb Says it All.
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Music critics in other genres such as Contemporary Christian music rate albums on how much a group has changed or grown since their previous project. But in Southern Gospel, in most cases (outside of progressive SG), that’s not what the fans want. Besides, in Southern Gospel, you’re frequently hearing mature performers on their 39th project, not teens on their third. The Kingdom Heirs know what their fans want, and that’s exactly what they give them.
Rodney Griffin contributed “He Locked the Gates,” a barn-burner convention song in the tradition of “I Know I’m Going There,” another Griffin tune the group cut in 2004. This should be a concert favorite, and was the obvious pick to be the project’s first single.
Joseph Habedank and Matthew Holt contributed “Turning Loose,” a mid-tempo number that fits the Kingdom Heirs’ style well.
The project’s closing tune, “The Empty Tomb Says it All,” was penned by Daryl Petersheim. The song became known through winning the Singing News songwriters’ contest a year or two back.
As in previous projects, the Kingdom Heirs draw heavily from the pen of Dianne Wilkinson. She wrote or co-wrote the other nine tracks on the project. The two co-writes were “Biblically Correct” (with co-writer Rusty Golden) and “Steppin’ On the Stars” (with co-writer Niles Borop). Both songs utilize modern harmonies well suited for the groups’ sound.
One other Wilkinson contribution particularly worth mentioning is “Fire Away,” an uptempo composition featuring Billy Hodges. The first line of the chorus brings to mind Brian Free & Assurance’s “Pray, Daniel, Pray.” This could be a concert favorite or even a strong radio single.
David Bruce Murray described When You Look at Me aptly: “The songs on this CD seem familiar right away, even though the lyrics are new.” [EDIT, 6/6/12: Broken link removed.] There is little stylistically to differentiate this from previous Kingdom Heirs projects, so if you loved their previous projects, you should love this one.