CD Review: Bridges Over Blue (Charlotte Ritchie)

Average Song Rating: 3.8 stars

Rating: 4 stars

Producer: Gordon Mote & Marshall Hall

Songlist: I’m Gonna Take That Mountain; In Everything Give Thanks; No One Knows My Heart Better Than You; You Are Here With Me; Bridges Over Blue; My Father’s Angels; I’ve Got Joy; Nothing Keeps You From His Love; What Love Has Grown; Sometimes I Picture You That Way.

Artist Website: www.charlotteritchiemusic.com.

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In 2006, Charlotte Ritchie released her debut solo project, Closer, with RSI Music Group. At the time, she was still a member of Jeff & Sheri Easter; Bridges over Blue is her first release as a full-time soloist.

Ritchie’s debut project had several hits on Southern Gospel radio and a top 10 hit on Inspirational radio. This project continues in a similar vein. The Southern Gospel element is unquestionably still there, especially on songs where Jeff & Sheri Easter or the Isaacs provide background vocals. On the other hand, when I was listening to “You Are Here with Me,” I could have closed my eyes and almost convinced myself I was hearing Twila Paris.

This project has the one indispensable element of any good project going for it–good song selection. Even with some stylistic variety, all of the songs fit Ritchie’s voice and combine well to make a unified whole. The project definitely has its catchy songs, too; “I’ve Got Joy,” the current radio single, would have been at home on a recent Karen Peck & New River project, while “You are Here With Me,” “Bridges Over Blue,” and “What Love Has Grown” are other memorable mid to uptempo tunes.

The project doesn’t have any hanky-waving, get-the-crowd-on-their-feet-and-keep-them-there-for-an-encore big ballads. Its slower songs, such as “No One Knows My Heart Better than You,” “Sometimes I Picture God That Way,” and “Nothing Keeps You From His Love” are more meditative numbers. But while this might normally be a minus, this project seems to have the coherence and self-confidence of an artist who knows what direction she wants to take the project and cooperative producers who don’t try to push the project in eight different directions to make everyone happy.

The packaging is professional quality. Songwriter and studio musician vocalists are included. The only discordant note is in the photography: Not only did Ritchie appear to wear the same outfit as she did in the photo shoot for her Go Rest High project (here) but the photo on the inside of the back CD cover appears to be the exact same photo as Go Rest High’s cover photo. [EDIT, 11/6/10: Regrettably, the link seems to be broken, so it has been removed.]

Even though it may be less true than thirty years ago, Southern Gospel is still a group-driven genre. On a personal level, like many other Southern Gospel fans, I admit to being partial to groups. And I tend to prefer the traditional end of the spectrum. But despite the fact that this project is a slightly progressive project by a soloist, it is nonetheless one of the best projects I’ve reviewed this year.


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9 Letters to the Editor

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  1. My goodness, Daniel! Such a high rating on a solo CD! I’m definitely going to have to get this one!

  2. Yes, it was a little surprising to me, too!

    But I do try to give every recording that comes my way a fair hearing. 🙂

  3. I like Charlotte Ritchie and love to hear her sing. But – I was very disappointed in this CD. It is one I purchased to support her – but it has already gone into the stack that does not get into the car – where 99% of listening takes place.

    With the exception of one or two songs – her real talent is not showcased – IMHO. Just not what I enjoy… Personal tastes.

    JEB

  4. I’m kinda with JEB on this one as I was disappointed in the rest of the project beside the radio release, “I’ve got joy” which is a great song and stands out on the whole project. The project is very good and better than her first one but for the most part is to “laid back” for my tastes and got a tad “same sounding” (of course that can happen a lot easier with a soloist…) there are about 3 songs that will transfer to a listening device for repeated play…

  5. According to the linear notes, who are the background vocalists on “Joy” ?

  6. The Isaacs, Jeff & Sheri Easter, Marsh Hall, Gordon Mote, and Russell Terrell all provided background vocals for the project. The notes don’t say which songs each particular vocalist is on. (That’s a detail reserved for higher-budget CCM productions, I guess, that also go to the trouble of printing the lyrics for each song!) But back to topic…I’d guess the Isaacs, maybe. ❓

  7. The Isaacs would be my best guess also.
    It’s kinda odd, but there’s a few spots in the chorus where it sounds faintley like one of the background vocalists takes the lead part. I would have to listen to the song again to be for sure where, but I’m thinking it’s on the parts “Joy, like a rushing water…” and “Joy, like the children’s laughter…..”
    Could be my ears playing tricks on me though.

  8. I am a huge fan of Charlotte Richie. She’s been a big inspiration to me for years, and I’ve tried to model some of her stylistic vocal clarity as a vocalist myself.

    I thought this CD was really great. It seemed to really show her heart more than “Closer” did. My favorites off the CD were “You Are Here With Me,” “My Father’s Angels,” and “Nothing Keeps You From His Love.” I loved all of the songs, but those were most memorable to me.

    “You Are Here With Me” is a song that is co-written by Marshall Hall. The other co-writers are Scott Davis, Sam Mizell, and Steve Siler. Marsh sang it on his 2005 solo release (his second one), Boundless. I think it’s a powerful song with a great message.

    “Nothing Keeps You From His Love” is a sweet song gently reminding us of a truth we hold dear to us.

    I’ve always loved Gloria Gaither text of “My Father’s Angels.” I even bought the children’s book/CD of it for my goddaughter. And you can’t get much sweeter than hearing her little boy, Landon, on the track. It was a delight.

    As for her first solo release, Go Rest High, I noticed that they re-released it with the same current photos that they also used on Bridges Over Blue! I have the original version that used to be available through Jeff & Sheri Easter’s website. That’s where I ordered my copy through a few years ago. It has a completely different CD insert with different photographs. I wonder why they chose to update it…

  9. i met charlotte when sung with the nelons and i have allways enjoyed hearing her sing