2009 in Review: Top 10 Breakout Albums

A number of Southern Gospel journalists have posted their lists of the top 10 albums of 2009. Rather than duplicating their efforts, here are the top 10 breakout albums of the year.

These ten aren’t necessarily the ten best projects of the year—though several are certainly in that number—but these are the ten that were the biggest improvement upon artists’ previous releases.

Without further ado:

  1. Just Stand, Legacy Five. Roger Bennett brought such a creative strength to the group’s musical presentation that many observers would not have guessed that the group’s strongest album to date would be a post-Roger project.
  2. The Journey, Liberty Quartet. If this project doesn’t catch the ear of record labels . . . well, let’s just say they’ll miss out on the best independent project of the year.
  3. The Answer, Collingsworth Family. This project might feasibly have been ranked a notch or two higher if not for the fact that it’s more an incremental improvement upon past projects than a major change. It’s solid, and solidly better than their last project, just not so much better as to make it a huge surprise.
  4. Keep Traveling On, Chuck Wagon Gang. Though they have always had their loyal fans, this project put the CWG back on the map from an industry standpoint.
  5. Story of a Lifetime, Dills. Very strong project from an up-and-coming group.
  6. Everyday, Triumphant Quartet. Though this project may possibly be ranked higher on a best-of list, it (like the Collingsworth project) is more an incremental improvement than anything else. Still, incremental improvement or not, the project was their best yet, earning them their first five-star rating on this site.
  7. Timeless, Roy Webb. When was the last time (other than this) that a solo artist got a five star rating on this site? I’m not entirely sure, but it’s certainly the first five-star solo piano recording!
  8. Live at Dollywood, Kingdom Heirs. Though the Kingdom Heirs have had excellent song selection for some time, the breathtaking video quality of this video/CD set is a noticeable improvement over their previous live productions. (Not that their previous live productions were poor in any way—this is just better!)
  9. Breakthrough, Ball Brothers (review forthcoming). This may rank higher in a retrospective list, since it’s too early to judge what kind of a response the album is having. But suffice to say that this album may be big for the group.
  10. Reunion Vols. 1 and 2, Gaither Vocal Band. Were they better than previous Gaither Vocal Band live projects? Actually, one could make the case that the answer is yes. But whether or not the answer is yes, just look at their impact.

For more about —and other Southern Gospel news and commentary—follow our RSS feed or sign up for our email updates!

6 Letters to the Editor

Southern Gospel Journal welcomes letters to the editor. We will post the most thoughtful and insightful submissions. Ground rules: Don't attack or belittle groups or fellow posters, or advance heresies rejected by orthodox Christianity. Do keep comments positive, constructive, and on topic.
  1. I noticed you have Tribute Quartet’s latest CD, “For This Time,” scheduled to be reviewed sometime in the future. I’d have to add it to this list now, though. It’s their first recording on a major label (Crossroads) and their first to include songs by major writers in the industry. Their prior two CDs featured primarily songs by Glenn Bates. This project takes the group to a whole new level, and unless I’m badly fooled, there are several top-10 caliber songs on “For This Time.” It’s a great project for a group that has worked very hard for the first three years of their existence. They deserve to be included.

    • It’s a good CD, beyond doubt. I’m just not sure if it’s the big one for them yet.

      It’s definitely an improvement over their first two (which were good—just this one’s better). I’ll agree with you on that point!

  2. Liberty Quartet’s CD is the only one from this list I’d remotely consider to be a “breakout.”

    A breakout CD should be one that elevates a group from the ordinary, mediocre class to the professional level. Most of the groups on your list already have a proven track record and a large stable of fans.

    The only breakout CDs that come to mind from 2009 are Declaration by the Crist Family and Driven’s self-titled CD. I haven’t heard Tribute’s yet.

    Now, the most improved group based on a 2009 release this year was Gold Harbor. Of course, they had set the standard pretty low with their previous release…I wouldn’t call their new one a breakout CD.

    • How about elevates a group from professional to potential superstar status? That’s why I put Just Stand at #1 and The Journey at #2.

  3. Great list, Daniel!

  4. Great list Daniel totally agree about Just Stand… And Liberty’s latest…