CD Review: Freedom (Freedom)
John Rulapaugh and Josh Garner announced the formation of Freedom in April, and signed with Homeland in May. Rupalaugh and Garner sang together in assorted Blackwood groups; Rulapaugh had previously sung with the Dove Brothers and Palmetto State Quartet, while Garner sang with the Florida Boys for most of their final decade on the road. Baritone Joel Trimble previously performed with Soul’d Out Quartet.
Freedom comes out of the gate strong with this self-titled debut. Nine of the ten songs are new songs; the one exception is the Elmer Cole-penned song “Look What He’s Already Done.”
Some trios, like the Booth Brothers, Voices Won, and the Collingsworth Ladies, focus on incredibly tight harmonies, with virtually identical diction and placement styles. On the other hand, a group like the Mark Trammell Trio, composed almost entirely of singers from quartet background, sang with broader power harmonies and distinct quartet-style placement. For several years, before Mark Trammell made the best personnel decision of the year by hiring Pat Barker and becoming a quartet, I gave them the honorary title of “the best quartet without a bass singer on the road.” This mantle is now ready to be passed to Freedom.
Back to the project: Freedom has established a distinctive and immediately recognizable group sound, an all-too-rare feat for a new group in our genre. Their vocals are rich and full, with a generous touch of blues. Whether on a fun, up-tempo song like the Dianne Wilkinson-penned “My Retirement Plan,” to straight-ahead mid-tempo songs like “Come on In” and the delightfully catchy “As Close As a Prayer,” to a big ballad like “His Blood Alone,” the group brings each song a consistent vocal and instrumental style that is a pleasure to hear.
Group members: John Rulapaugh, Josh Garner, Joel Trimble. Produced by: Josh Garner, Nick Bruno, Scott Godsey. Available from: Freedom. Review copy provided. Song list: When the Saints Go Marching In; My Retirement Plan; If It Wasn’t For That Cross; When the Sun Finally Sets; Come On In; Look What He’s Already Done; Between Two Thieves; His Blood Alone; I Know That I’m Saved; As Close as a Prayer. Average song rating: 3.9 stars. CD rating: 4 stars.