CD Review: Almost Morning (Perrys)

web_top_alternate-1Rating: 4.5 stars (of 5)

Average Song Rating: 4.4 stars (of 5)

Members: Libbi Perry Stuffle (alto), Joseph Habedank (lead), Troy Peach (baritone), Tracy Stuffle (bass), Bryan Elliott (pianist).

Song List: This Old Sinner Testifies; If You Knew Him; An Old Fashioned Altar; Almost Morning; I Love to Tell; The One Who is Unworthy; Dying is a Day; Prior to a Prayer; You Cannot Improve On the Truth; Did I Mention.

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The Perrys released their last studio project, Look No Further, roughly two years ago. It was one of their career best projects, and produced a string of radio hits and concert favorites for the group. Frequently, in Southern Gospel, when a group hits on a formula that works that well, they stick with what they know works, choosing a similar mixture of fast songs and ballads and a similar arrangement style for their following recordings.

The Perrys show that they aren’t content to rest on their laurels—with Almost Morning, they branch out to experiment with new styles. They bring in Cajun influences for “Old Fashioned Altar,” swing for “You Cannot Improve on the Truth,”* and progressive for a new Joseph Habedank / Matthew Holt composition, “Dying is a Day.” (*Hat tip to Wes Burke on that one, since I’m unfamiliar with swing.)

The Perrys don’t stray too far from their roots, though; most of the other songs on the project are arranged in styles that would have fit quite well on their earlier projects. “One Who is Unworthy,” a new Rodney Griffin song, features Libbi Stuffle; its arrangement brings to mind “Mary For a While.” Libbi Stuffle’s power alto rendition of “Did I Mention” brings a song like “Holy Shore” to mind, even though “Did I Mention” is somewhat less orchestrated. And with “I Love to Tell,” the Perrys maintain their tradition of including a classic convention style song on each project.

Probably the biggest news with this project is Joseph Habedank’s growth both as a songwriter and vocalist. When he initially moved from the baritone to the lead role, a number of Perrys fans questioned whether Tracy and Libbi had put him in shoes bigger than he could fill. With every year and every project since, he’s improved as a vocalist. This is particularly well illustrated on two of his feature songs on the project, “Almost Morning” (a song he co-wrote with former Perrys pianist Matthew Holt), and “If You Knew Him” (a song he co-wrote with Rodney Griffin). On “Almost Morning,” his soft, tender vocals fit the gentle ballad, while on “If You Knew Him,” he carries a power lead on the project’s standout big ballad.

Almost Morning covers enough new ground for the Perrys to win them some new fans, but it retains enough familiar styles to keep their previous fans along for the ride.


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11 Letters to the Editor

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  1. Not one mentioning of Troy Peach’s performance on this project? Did he have any features? Was it a good blend?

  2. He did have two features, Prior to a Prayer and one other. There was a good blend, but I think it will improve – he had just joined when they went into the studio.

  3. Good review Daniel… I am hoping to get my copy Tuesday… I have heard Three song’s “If You Knew Him” “This Old Sinner Testifies” and “One Who Is Unworthy” on their Myspace… I love all three songs. So I know I will love the rest of the project!!!

  4. I’ve heard four songs from this and will definitely be adding “Almost Morning” to my collection.

  5. I purchased the CD the day it was rec’d at LifeWay at Union Campus here in Jackson, TN. I thought it was awesome. I am so very proud for them. I think if you listen to the CD, the songs line up to tell a story. It has something for everyone . . . traditional or upbeat or contemporary. I really enjoy listening to it. I think The Perry’s are blessed and God has his hand on this group . . . God Bless. Kaye Flowers, Jackson, TN

  6. I’m listening to “Almost Morning” now. This is a seriously good album

  7. Just found this on iTunes … Who recorded “This Old Sinner Testifies”??? This is going to drive me nuts till I can remember why I know this song. Gold City? Cathedrals?

    I’m going to get a couple of songs and someday buy the CD … That’s how I usually end up doing, anyway.

  8. Gold City.

    • Thanks! I wonder if we used to have it, or if I just heard it on the Gospel Greats. I love running across those songs that really wake up old echoes inside me……

      • Unfortunately, that’s one question I can’t answer for you! 🙂

  9. I am wondering if anyone knows the lyrics to “The One Who Is Unworthy.” If ya’ll have them, my email is