CD Review: I Just Wanted You to Know (Kim Hopper)
Average Song Rating: 3.8 (of 5)
Producer: Dave Clark and Kim Hopper
Song List: When God Sings; The Promised Land; Gospel To the World; What Will I Wear; Well Done Well Done; The Woman in My Little Girl’s Room; The Devil Lost His Keys; That Sounds Like Heaven to Me; Come Out Praising; I Just Wanted You to Know.
This fall, Canaan Records issues their first three original recordings. (Their two previous releases have been reissues of earlier independently released Hoppers projects.) I will be reviewing all three on this blog within the next month or so. While I run the risk of stealing some of my own thunder, this project is the strongest of the three.
Incidentally, it’s also the project in which Canaan had the most direct involvement. Mike Bowling produced and arranged his group’s project; Jason Webb produced and arranged the Mike LeFevre Quartet project. Though Canaan exec Dave Clark is listed as an executive producer on the Mike LeFevre Quartet project, which means he did have some oversight in production decisions, I Just Wanted You To Know was produced by Dave Clark and Kim Hopper–the only one of the three on which Clark had a direct hand in the day-to-day shaping process. Clark and Hopper were joined by an all-star production team; Lari Goss arranged and orchestrated three of the tracks, most notably “Gospel To the World.” Wayne Haun arranged the rest of the strings and brass, and Gordon Mote handled the vocal arrangements.
This level of interest by the studio shows; I Just Wanted You To Know gets all the little details right. Care in production quality is evident from the first bars of music to the final notes.
The project has several strong songs, most notably “Gospel To The World.” This Paula Stefanovich song is a song with the same level of potential as Stefanovich’s previous contributions to the Hoppers, “Jerusalem” and “Yaweh.” Her songs seem tailor-made to the Hopper’s style; she also contributed another of the project’s strongest songs, “That Sounds Like Heaven to Me.”
All too often, a solo project is either a table project of familiar hymns or an attempt to replicate the same sound a group member has with his or her group. Here, Kim Hopper takes the opportunity a solo project affords to explore themes and record songs that are more suited for solo than ensemble performance. The title alone for the song “What Will I Wear” suggests it likely wouldn’t be a song a man picked. (It’s a pity in a way, since it’s a really nice tune.) “The Woman in my Little Girl’s Room,” featuring a guest vocal by Dean Hopper, is another tune that wouldn’t fit on a Hoppers project.
I seriously considered joining David Murray in giving this project 5 stars of 5. [EDIT, 6/6/12: Broken link removed.] The production quality is top notch, deserving a 6 on a 1-5 scale. The only thing that held me back from the full 5-star rating was the song selection; though the project has several strong songs that should do well on radio, it doesn’t quite come to the level of The Ride (a project the Hoppers themselves will have a hard time topping). However, it is a strong project, on par with other recent Hoppers projects like Generations or Power.