CD Review: Songs You Know By Heart (Talley Trio)
When an artist records a project of new songs, there is some pressure to select songs and deliver arrangements up to par with their previous work. Artists and their fans alike enjoy it when, every now and then, artists take a break from that yearly cycle to deliver pleasing arrangements of time-tested favorites.
I say “time-tested” with some hesitation, because while most of the songs on the project are established classics, there are a few exceptions. The Talleys put their own stamp on a few more recent songs, including “If It Had Not Been” (McRaes), “The Promise” (Karen Wheaton, Allison Durham Speer et al), and a Dianne Wilkinson tune, “It’s Jesus,” previously recorded by the Mark Trammell Trio. The latter track is completely reinvented—an arrangement that works as well as the original.
Long-time Talley Trio fans have appreciated several past a capella arrangements from the group, and true to form, the group delivers pleasant renditions of “Pass Me Not” and “He’s a Personal Savior.”
There are several nods to their heritage in the genre. The group recorded three classic male quartet songs, and took them three entirely different directions. “He’s a Personal Savior,” though a capella, stays fairly close to a convention-style vocal arrangement. “How Big is God,” best known as a bass solo for the likes of legends like Big John Hall, Buddy Liles, or Pat Barker, becomes an alto feature under Debra Talley’s able management. “Just a Little Talk with Jesus” is reinvented as an uptempo song with a modern track.
Anchoring the album are its opening and closing tracks. “He’s Alive,” originally a folk ballad by Jesus Music balladeer Don Francisco, is brought back as a (literally) showstopping ballad featuring Lauren. And though I have no less than sixty-seven versions of “Amazing Grace” in my music collection, the rendition on this album is easily the best. If not for any other reason, this project would be worth acquiring for just these two songs.
Rating: 4.5 stars. ♦ Average song rating: 4.1 stars. ♦ Group members: Lauren Talley, Debra Talley, Roger Talley. ♦ Produced by: Roger Talley. ♦ Available from: Label, Artist. Review copy provided. ♦ Song list: Amazing Grace; The Promise; Just a Little Talk With Jesus; Pass Me Not; He’s So Good to Me; Hold On; It’s Jesus; How Big is God; He’s a Personal Savior; Oh What a Reason; If It Had Not Been; He’s Alive.
Note: This review was written months ago, not too long after NQC, and long before I started working with Crossroads.