DVD Review: “Above and Beyond” (Liberty Quartet)
After the high rating I gave Liberty Quartet’s Timeless Treasured Hymns 2 project late last year, I have been curious to hear what they sounded like in a live concert setting. But since they tour almost exclusively on the West Coast, catching them in person hasn’t been feasible. So I did the next-best thing, watching their most recent DVD, Above and Beyond.
Since the group tours an area off the beaten path in our genre, it would probably be tempting to rely on the standard Southern Gospel jokes. But the group uses mostly original material, along with a few old standards, such as “old people like old music.” But even that line gets a unique twist, when baritone Doran Ritchey chides emcee/bass Royce Mitchell and tells him to apologize. Mitchell says, “I’m sorry–you’re old”–to another round of laughter.
This taping took place before Timeless Treasured Hymns 2 was released, and doesn’t contain any of the songs from that project. Most of the songs from There’s a Testimony, the group’s most recent project of new songs, are included. Interestingly, that project’s strongest ballad, “Near to the Heart of God,” is not one of the songs included. But “Glorious Tomorrow,” “Freedom,” and “I’m His” did make it onto the video.
The project also includes three songs each from their two previous projects. “Jericho Road,” “Walk Talk and Sing,” and “This World is Not My Home” come from Old Time Gospel Songs, Vol. 1. Meanwhile, Do You Know Him? (2005) is represented by its three strongest songs, “Wonder of His Love,” “Contagious,” and “He Had to Hold to Calvary.” The latter song is a powerful ballad; both the song and lead singer Dan Gilbert’s delivery are reminiscent of a big Kingdom Heirs/Arthur Rice anthem.
This group’s live presentation is on par with Southern Gospel’s biggest (non-Gaither) acts. The only thing holding them back from greater recognition in the genre is the fact that they tour the West Coast, where comparatively few of the Southern Gospel powers-that-be (and fans) can hear them for themselves.