CD Review: Simply Put (Soul’d Out)

Though it has been a while since anything about Soul’d Out has appeared on this site, the group should be familiar to long-time readers; an interview with baritone Tanner Stahl was posted in June 2008, and a review of their Ain’t Nobody project (a CD of new songs) went up in December 2008.

For Simply Put, the group stripped down to a simple piano, bass, and vocals sound. No producer is credited, but it looks like Arthur Rice earns most of the credit for the project; group pianist Michael Howard played the piano on all tracks, and Rice played bass, recorded the group’s vocals at his studio, and mixed and mastered the project.

Convention songs performed by the entire group are interspersed by solos. Unlike typical solos, where the featured member sings a solo in the verses only, these are performed solo throughout. Lead singer Matt Rankin takes the lead on “My Jesus, I Love Thee.” Bass Matt Fouch sings “I’d Rather have Jesus”—a song the Dixie Echoes recorded, also as a bass solo, at right about the same time (last fall). Tenor Dusty Barrett offers a soothing, pleasant rendition of “I Need Thee Every Hour.” Baritone Tanner Stahl is (I believe) the featured singer on “In the Garden.” Pianist Michael Howard solos on the closing track, “What a Friend We Have In Jesus.” The entire group sings together on one hymn, “Softly and Tenderly.”

Convention songs covered range from the long-time classics “Just a Little Talk With Jesus” and “Jesus is Coming Soon” to the more recent “Someday We Know,” recorded by the Kingsmen and Triumphant Quartet.

Fifty years ago, projects were often under-produced by modern standards; a bass guitar and drums would have been welcome additions, and instruments from bluegrass (fiddle, banjo) and country (dobro) would have worked on some tracks. In the last ten or twenty years, the pendulum has swung in the other direction—perhaps too far. In an era when we sometimes make things too complicated for ourselves, Simply Put is a breath of fresh air.

Rating: 4.5 stars. ♦ Average song rating: 4 stars. ♦ Group members: Dusty Barrett (tenor), Matt Rankin (lead), Tanner Stahl (baritone), Matt Fouch (bass), Michael Howard (pianist). ♦ Available from: Group. Review copy provided. ♦ Song list: I’ve Got That Feeling; My Jesus I Love Thee; Jesus is Coming Soon; I’d Rather Have Jesus; Standing on the Rock; I Need Thee Every Hour; Someday We’ll Know; In the Garden; Softly and Tenderly; Just a Little Talk With Jesus; What a Friend We Have in Jesus.

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4 Letters to the Editor

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  1. I certainly agree with your last paragraph; the pendulum has definitely swung too far. So much of Southern Gospel, both live and recorded, is overdone simply because it can be with modern technology, not because it adds anything. In fact, it usually detracts.

  2. I sure am glad you finished the sentence that began:
    “For Simply Put, the group stripped down…”

    • 😮

      For goodness’ sake, DBM! 😆 😆

  3. Tanner is lead on “My Jesus, I Love Thee” and Randin is lead on “In The Garden”.
    Great review!