CD Review: Fresh Water (Pure Heart)

Pure Heart is a mixed quartet from Chickamauga, Georgia, led by husband-and-wife team John Thomas (bass) and Sheila Thomas (alto). Their niece, Jessica Vaughn, sings soprano; her husband Stuart is the group’s lead/baritone.

The production quality is toward the upper end of what you would expect from a regional Southern Gospel groups. The tracks were recorded by Paul Corley at Oak Tree Studios, so they are professionally recorded. But they’re certainly lower-budget / less elaborate than other recent Corley productions (like The LeFevre Quartet’s latest).

The album’s most strongest moment jumps out as a standout on first listen: “Dead Bones Rise,” based on Ezekiel 37, was written by and features bass singer John Thomas. A bass singer like Tim Riley, Jeff Chapman (Kingdom Heirs), or Paul Harkey (Ernie Haase & Signature Sound) ought to jump on this song and bring it to, respectively, Gold City, Kingdom Heirs, or Ernie Haase & Signature Sound. It would, at a minimum, be an album and concert favorite, and it wouldn’t be hard at all to imagine it as a radio hit with the right arrangement.

Other strong moments include lead singer Stuart Vaughn’s solo on “A Reflection of You” and the nicely executed a capella arrangement of “He Leadeth Me.” The album contains eight other original songs and one more a cappella hymn (“It is Well With My Soul”).

Traditional or Progressive: Middle of the Road.

Group Members: Jessica Vaughn (soprano); Sheila Thomas (alto), Stuart Vaughn (baritone/lead); John Thomas (bass).

Credits: Tracks recorded by Paul Corley at Oak Tree Studios. Vocals produced by John Thomas and recorded at Potter’s Wheel Studios in Chickamauga, Georgia. Musicians: Not credited.

Song List: Lord, Gimme A Pure Heart (written by Don Greene); Come to the Cross (written by John Thomas); Safe in the Rock (written by Gordon Bellcase); It is Well With My Soul (written by Horatio Spafford and Philip P. Bliss); Dead Bones Rise (written by John Thomas); Into the Father’s Arms (written by Sheila Thomas); A Cool Drink of Water (written by John Thomas); A Reflection of You (written by John Thomas); Stepping Stones (written by John Thomas); Do Not Be Afraid (written by John Thomas); He Leadeth Me; An Altar of Prayer (written by John Thomas).

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3:1 CD Review: Live in Oro Valley (Liberty Quartet)

Live in Oro Valley (Liberty Quartet)3:1 Reviews offer three highlights of an album and one area that could have been improved.

1: Vocals: With the possible exception of the Keith Waggoner/Dan Gilbert/Doran Ritchey/Royce Mitchell lineup, this current version of Liberty Quartet offers the strongest vocal performances of the group’s history. The group has had several recent lineup changes; tenor Phillip Batton replaced Waggoner shortly before their 2011 mainline God’s Been Faithful (reviewed here) came out, while lead singer Doug Wiley replaced Gilbert shortly after the album’s release.

Most of the album’s tracks come from God’s Been Faithful; in a sense, especially since the original soundtracks from the album are the only musical accompaniment, this album revisits God’s Been Faithful with vocals from the new lineup, plus applause and a little talking between the tracks.

2: For All My Sins, featuring tenor Phillip Batton and 3: Welcome to Heaven, featuring lead singer Doug Wiley: That the album’s two strongest moments come from its two rookies says more than a little about the vocal strength Liberty Quartet will be carrying forward into their next mainline.

:1: Live piano: Previous Liberty Quartet baritone Doran Ritchey also played piano on a number of songs in each Liberty Quartet program. Since his departure, the group’s live programs have been soundtrack-only. This live album is solely pre-recorded soundtracks with live vocals; as a live album, it would have definitely been stronger if the group had brought in a guest live pianist, at least for a couple of tracks.

Also, it would have been nice to see songwriter credits included with the packaging.

Traditional or Progressive: Middle-of-the-road with traditional moments.

Group Members: Philip Batton (tenor), Doug Wiley (lead), Jordan Cragun (baritone), Royce Mitchell (bass).

Credits: Produced by Jordan Cragun, Royce Mitchell, Larry Vinyard, and David Mills. Directed by David Mills. Assistant Director: Suzy Burros. Edited by Troy Watters. Audio Engineering by Alex Adamitis.

Song List: Up And Away; Roll On Jordan; Not Givin’ in to Givin’ Up; For All My Sins; 39 Chapters Later; Peace Like a River; I Made it Mine; Who Can Do Anything; God’s Been Faithful; Jesus Saves; Welcome to Heaven; Up and Away Reprise.

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CD Review: Focused on You (Springvale Boys)

The Torchmen, based in Ontario, Canada, might be Canada’s best-known Southern Gospel group this side of the border. But, of course, they’re not the only one. The Springvale Boys, also from Ontario, Canada, recently released their debut project, Focused on You.

Except for one hymn melody, all the songs are original to the group. Bass singer and manager John Halse wrote the lyrics; Richard Ash, the album’s producer, wrote the melodies. When you’re introducing a new group, it doubles the risk to debut with almost exclusively original material. But the risk paid off; it wouldn’t be hard at all to imagine a half-dozen of these new songs finding a place on a major group’s project. “River of Life,” “It’s Going to Be a While,” and “Laugh and Weep” particularly stand out.

The group is stronger vocally than most regional groups. Their voices blend exceptionally well. 

All in all, this is a strong debut. If this group happens to come through your area—which, admittedly, is rather unlikely for most of our readers, since the only listed dates on their tour schedule presently seem to be north of the border—they’re definitely worth checking out. And don’t be surprised if they win you over.

Traditional or Progressive: Middle-of-the road; perhaps slightly on the traditional side of the road.

Credits: Produced by Richard Ash with John Halse at RAM Studios, London, Ontario, Canada. Group members: Herb Hoover, Phil Pugh (tenor), John Halse (bass), Dave Noakes (lead and guitar), Rod Russell (baritone/lead and piano).

Song List: River of Life (written by John Halse and Richard Ash); Where There’s His Will (written by John Halse and Richard Ash); Keep in Step (written by John Halse and Richard Ash); Focused on You (written by John Halse and Richard Ash); It’s Going to Be a While (written by John Halse and Richard Ash); Laugh and Weep (written by John Halse and Richard Ash); Oh, How I Love Jesus / Hymn Medley; Water, Water Everywhere (written by John Halse and Richard Ash, with an excerpt from “Because He Lives” by William J. and Gloria Gaither); I Want to Get In (written by John Halse and Richard Ash); Thinking of Me (written by John Halse and Richard Ash).

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CD Review: A New Perspective (Torchmen Quartet)

The Torchmen are probably Canada’s best-known Southern Gospel Quartet; in certain years, they have even been invited to a mainstage slot at the National Quartet Convention. Since their 2011 mainline release (Step Up, reviewed here), they have a new lead singer and bass singer. This album, A New Perspective, introduces the new lineup with a mixture of classics, covers of songs major groups introduced, and a few new songs.

The group did a good job of avoiding the obvious and over-done when selecting their song covers. They pull from major groups like the Cathedrals (“Over the Door”) and Larry Gatlin or the Blue Ridge Quartet (“Light at the End of the Darkness”), and they also revisit songs from lesser-known groups like the Cumberland Quartet (“I’ll Keep on Leaning”).

“I’d Rather Have Jesus,” “Wish You Were Here,” and “I Can Tell You the Time” are easily the three most recorded tracks, but only the first is one of Southern Gospel’s 200 most-recorded songs

The strongest new songs are “In the Cross,” written by Richard Ash, and “I Will Pray,” written by Rebecca Peck and Christina DeGazio. Interestingly, “I Will Pray” already had a Canadian connection: As we found out in this November post, DeGazio is Canadian. (DeGazio is perhaps best-known for co-writing Legacy Five’s first mega-hit, “I Stand Redeemed.”)

Traditional or Progressive: Middle-of-the-road.

Group Members: Sandy McGregor (tenor), Mike Moran (baritone), Jeff Tritton (lead), Jon Hisey (bass).

Credits: Produced and mixed by Jon Hisey. Recorded at Grant Avenue Studios. Engineered by Bob Doidge and Amy King White. Review copy provided.

Song List: I Want to Make a Difference (written by Phil Cross); I’ll Keep on Leaning (written by D Britt); Just One More Song (written by Rebecca Peck); I Will Pray (written by Rebecca Peck and Christina DeGazio); Fair Exchange (written by D Leach); Wish You Were Here (written by Michael Williams and Jim Stover); City in the Sky (written by R Ash); Light at the End of Darkness (written by Gatlin); I Can Tell You the Time (written by Adger M. Pace); In the Cross (written by R Ash); Over the Door (Squire Parsons); I’d Rather Have Jesus (written by Rhea Miller and George Beverly Shea.

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3:1 CD Review: How You Walk the Miles (Karen Peck)

How You Walk the Miles (Karen Peck)3:1 Reviews offer three highlights of an album and one area that could have been improved.

1: If You Want to Go To Heaven: You’ve probably heard a number of songs like Nicodemus, but you’ve certainly never heard one like this. The melody would lend itself to the bluesy quartet style the Kingdom Heirs are known for, and other male quartets will do on occasion (e.g. Legacy Five’s “Goin’ Home Day” or Gold City’s “Keep Me on the Wheel.”) But that’s not where Karen and her production team takes the song. Instead, this fun, bouncy track is infused with a south-of-the-border calypso or mariachi flair.

2: Stand By The River: Karen’s cover of this Dottie Rambo classic brings an appropriate mixture of almost playful delight and soulful passion. The Oak Ridge Boys’ background vocals are a pleasant contrast that works far better than one might guess at first glance. In a minor complaint, it seems that the sound engineers ran their de-essing software (a program that removes “s” sounds) a little too enthusiastically on some of the background vocals. That aside, this is a fun take on a fun song.

3: Holy Spirit, Speak To Me: On this song, which Karen co-wrote with Kenna Turner West and Don Poythress, her long-standing love for the music of the mountains comes through. This Bluegrass-infused tune might be soft and mellow, but it’s a showstopper. If you loved Janet Paschal’s “I See a Crimson Stream” or the Collingsworth Family’s “Oh, the Thought that Jesus Loves Me,” the album is worth purchasing for this track alone. Jeff Taylor, who has toured with Vince Gill and currently tours with Keith & Kristyn Getty’s live band, adds an accordion track that is a perfect complement to its meditative feel.

:1: Put a Little Love in Your Heart: This is more a positive song than a Gospel song. It’s not that it’s a bad moment; it’s just the album’s weakest. If you like Karen’s voice and style, this track is no reason to skip picking up the whole project. In fact, this project is packed with so many solid songs that, if you were to compare this with her last two or three Karen Peck and New River projects, this one’s the strongest of the set.

Traditional or Progressive: Both of the above, plus everywhere between.

Credits: Produced by Ben Isaacs. Tracks recorded at The Sound Emporium by Mark Capps and Johs Papp. Vocals recorded at Daywind Sky Studios by Justin Kropf and Ben Isaacs. Additional vocals recorded at Ben’s Place, The Crib, Ron Fairchild Records, and The Parlor. Mixed by Mark Capps. Mastered at Georgetown Mastering by Shelley Anderson. Musicians: Bryan Sutton (guitar), Aubrey Haynie (fiddle, mandolin); Gordon Mote (piano, keyboards), Kenny Greenburg (electric guitar), Michael Rhodes (bass), Tony Creasman (drums and percussion), Jeff Taylor (accordion), Scott Sanders (steel). Background Vocals by The Oak Ridge Boys, David Phelps, Wes Hampton, Jason Crabb, Gordon Mote, Sonya Isaacs Yeary, Ben Isaacs, Susan Peck Jackson, Jeff Hawes, Gene McDonald, Chip Davis, Angie Primm, Gail Mayes, and Jerard Woods.

Song List: Talk about the Good Things (written by Karen Peck Gooch, Don Poythress, and Kenna Turner West); How You Walk the Miles (written by Scott Inman and Kenna Turner West); God Lives There (written by Kenna Turner West and Lee Black); If You Wanna Go to Heaven (written by Sonya Isaacs and Jimmy Yeary); Extra Mile (written by Maurice Carter and Margaret Harris); Stand By the River (written by Dottie Rambo); Partof Letting Go (written by Justin Rivers, Brandon Hood, and Wes Willet); Pray (written by Cindy Morgan); Fix Me, Jesus; Put a Little Love in Your Heart (written by Jimmy Holiday, Randy Myers, and Jackie De Shannon); Everywhere (written by Jerry Kelso, Sheri La Fontaine); Holy Spirit Speak to Me (written by Karen Peck Gooch, Don Poythress, and Kenna Turner West).

Five-star songs: If You Want to Go to Heaven, Holy Spirit Speak to Me.

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CD Review: Greatest Hits Live (Booth Brothers)

Greatest Hits Live (Booth Brothers)The first nine songs on Greatest Hits Live were recorded in front of a live audience on December 30, 2011 in Morristown, Tennessee. The group’s must-have signature songs are included (“He Saw it All,” “Look for Me at Jesus’ Feet,” “Still Feelin’ Fine,” “What Salvation’s Done for Me”), but they also mix in the variety you would expect to see in a live concert with current songs and a hymn. Unlike a compilation, the track list isn’t determined by a mechanical calculation of which songs charted the highest; it has the more natural feel of a live program.

Just a few seconds into “Stuff of Life,” Michael Booth forgot the words. His recovery, with a spectacularly funny spin on the maxim that you get what you pay for, is a textbook example of how to recover from blooper that’s as embarrassing as it is funny.

If you ever study public speaking, you’ll be taught that the mark of a professional is not that you never make a mistake. Everyone will make mistakes; the professionals are the ones who can recover smoothly. Michael Booth is a true professional; he immediately got the audience laughing with him instead of at him.

The songs recorded live were recorded solely with soundtracks. But thanks in large part to Michael Booth’s emcee work, there is not a single tracks-only group in our genre better than the Booth Brothers at creating a live experience that approaches the excitement levels of a group with a live band. Besides Booth’s spectacular blooper recovery, highlighted above, one other highlight that deserves special mention was his heart-wrenching setup to “She Still Remembers Jesus’ Name.”

The album closes with two bonus studio cuts of new songs. These songs are so strong that long-time fans who already have the other nine songs ought to purchase the project for these two songs alone. Far too many fast Southern Gospel songs are light on thought-provoking theological statements; “Right in the Middle,” the current radio single, is a welcome exception. If you would think that an exploration of what it means to be in God’s will wouldn’t lend itself naturally to a Southern Gospel toe-tapper, think again!

Meanwhile, “What the World Needs to Hear” is a collection of vignettes of people from all walks of life who need the Gospel. It’s strong enough to be a second single if they need a second before their next album comes out.

Traditional or Progressive: Middle-of-the-road with progressive moments.

Group Members: Michael Booth (tenor), Ronnie Booth (lead), Jim Brady (baritone).

Live Recording Credits: House sound: Robert Dixon. Recorded by Bob Williams and Adam Deene. Post production editing and remix: Bob Williams, Jim Brady. Studio Recording Credits: Produced by Ronnie Booth, Michael Booth, Jim Brady, Nick Bruno. Vocals recorded at Brady House Studios by Jim Brady. Tracks recorded at Sunset Blvd. Studios by Steve Dady. Strings arranged by Steve Mauldin and performed by the Nashville String Machine. Musicians: Jason Webb (piano), Mark Hill (bass), Dave Cleveland (guitars), Steve Brewster (drums). Mixed at: True Blue Audio by Joe Carrell and Jim Brady. Mastered at Yes Master Studios, Nashville, TN.

Song List: In the Sweet By and By; Welcome to the Family; He Saw It All; Look For Me at Jesus’ Feet; Bread Upon the Water; She Still Remembers Jesus’ Name; What Salvation’s Done For Me; Stuff of Life; Still Feeling Fine; Right in the Middle (studio cut); What the World Needs to Hear (studio cut).

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3:1 DVD/CD Review: Discover Your Voice (Steve Hurst)

3:1 Reviews offer three highlights of an album and one area that could have been improved.

1: Concept: Steve Hurst is one of Southern Gospel’s most-respected voice teachers. This CD/DVD set contains a live recording of one of his voice workshops. For those who are unable, whether logistically or financially, to attend one of his schools or workshops in person, this recording’s availability is a welcome resource.

2: CD/DVD availability: The case includes three DVDs, and three CDs that contain the same audio. Having an identical audio version also available is incredibly helpful for rehearsal.

3: Scope: There are extensive discussions on voice placement, vocal registers, proper breathing, power, and vocal warm-ups. But the presentation is wide-ranging; Hurst also covers posture, facial expressions, hand gestures, nerves, and the Biblical ministry objectives for speakers and singers. 

:1: Ads: Interspersed with the segments are ads for the Steve Hurst School of Music. Though mildly distracting, these aren’t a huge minus—certainly not enough to avoid purchasing this incredibly valuable resource.

Credits: Produced by Steve & Mary Hurst and John Rowsey. Producer’s Assistant: Damar Noecker. Post-production audio and video: Rodney Underwood. Guests: Gary Casto, Mary Anne Oglesby, John Rowsey, Josh Singletary, Debra Talley, Lauren Talley. Audio: Dave Vance. Recorded at Christ Temple, Huntington, West Virginia.
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3:1 CD Review: Worn Around the Edges (Christian Davis)

Worn Around the Edges - Christian Davis3:1 Reviews offer three highlights of an album and one area that could have been improved.

1: Every Scar: This song is becoming increasingly familiar to Southern Gospel audiences. Darin & Brooke Aldridge and The Talleys have both recorded versions within the last two years; though the Aldridges are primarily known in Bluegrass, their rendition was sent to Southern Gospel radio and appeared on the Singing News charts.

Even if this is the third rendition that attentive listeners hear, the song is far from having worn out its welcome. The Aldridges’ original rendition was mellow, acoustic bluegrass; The Talleys’ rendition straight-ahead Southern Gospel. Christian Davis’ rendition is county, bearing resemblances to several Southern Gospel bass singers’ renditions of “Long Black Train.”

2: Raise Him Up: Much like “Every Scar,” this story-song starts in a place that you wouldn’t exactly expect would lend itself to a Gospel message—the challenges of raising step-children! The pivot to the Gospel comes at an unexpected juncture and packs a powerful impact.

3: Hittin’ the Road: This ode to the road is an introspective, autobiographical look at why a Christian singer makes the sacrifices necessary to tour the world and spread the Gospel through the song.

:1: Lyrical focus: Practically every song has at least a passing reference to the Christian faith. Viewing the project from a Southern Gospel perspective, it would have been nice to see faith-based lyrics more consistently. However, since Davis currently tours with Bluegrass mega-group Dailey & Vincent, the album is probably more accessible to their secular audience.

Traditional or Progressive: Progressive Southern Gospel / acoustic country / modern country.

Credits: Produced by Chris Latham, Jeff King, Jimmy Layne, and Jennifer Layne. Overdubs produced by Christian Davis and Kellan Monroe. Engineered, mixed, and mastered by Chris Latham. “I Need Thee Every Hour” produced, arranged, and engineered by Kellan Monroe. Musicians: Mike Rojas (piano, keyboards, Hammond B3), Kellan Monroe (piano), Jeff King (acoustic guitar, electric guitar), Jesse Baker (acoustic guitar), BJ Cherryholmes (mandolin, fiddle, archtop guitar), Zane King (steel guitar), Chris Latham (bass guitar, fiddle), Darrin Vincent (upright bass), Josh Swift (dobro), Steve Brewster (percussion), Sam Fisher (percussion), Molly Cherryholmes (cello). Background vocalists: Jeremy Layne, Jennifer Layne, Adam Elrod, Kellan Monroe, Jamie Dailey, Darrin Vincent, Christian Davis. Tracks recorded at EMI Nashville. Vocals recorded at Studio Gorilla, Davis’ Place Studios, Holiday Inn Express, EMI Nashville. Overdubs recorded at Davis’ Place Studios.

Song List: Just Show Up; That’s A Lot of Prayin’; Sixteen Tons (guest vocalists: Dailey & Vincent); When I’m Good and Gone; He Can’t Stop Loving You; Every Scar; Fit For a King; Raise Him Up; If I Had My Way; Pray For the Fish; Smallest House in Heaven; Hittin’ the Road; I Need Thee Every Hour.

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3:1 CD Review: Feels Like Christmas (Collingsworth Family)

Feels Like Christmas - Collingsworth Family3:1 Reviews offer three highlights of an album and one area that could have been improved.

1: Engineering Quality: Naming engineering quality as the lead-off highlight of Feels Like Christmas might seem odd and certainly need explanation.

The arranging team is largely familiar: Wayne Haun led most orchestral arrangements, while David Clydesdale, Roy Agee, and Cliff Duren all played a role on specific tracks.

The team of musicians is also largely familiar: Jason Webb and Kim Collingsworth on piano, John Hammond on drums and percussion, Craig Nelson on bass, Kelly Back on acoustic and electric guitars, and the Nashville String Machine on orchestrations.

With these familiar ingredients, you might expect a result similar to other projects with a similar production team. You would be mistaken. Feels Like Christmas, in one respect, is like no other Southern Gospel Christmas project (and, for that matter, no previous Collingsworth Family project). That area would be audio engineering.

Melissa Mattey was the lead engineer for the orchestral recording session. Mattey, who has studied orchestral conducting, brings classical sensibilities to the sound quality. There were over forty players in the session; she miked each individually and also had room microphones to capture the ambient sound. (This gives the orchestrations a live feel.) Since she also mixed the album, the final product has a vivid depth and richness that you typically only hear on a recording featuring one classical music’s leading conductors and orchestras.

Feels Like Christmas raises the bar for orchestral recording quality in our genre.

2: Overture (Silent Night / What Child is This): Philip Collingsworth Jr., already a strong vocalist, continues to improve with every album the family releases. His solo on “Silent Night” is exquisite.

This has freed up his father to spend more of his time in the lower portions of his baritone range. The rich tone in Phil Sr.’s solo on on “What Child is This” shows how much this has added to the family’s ensemble sound.

3: Who is He in Yonder Stall: Through the years, several Southern Gospel artists have turned in show-stopping renditions of this hymn. This rendition stands head-and-shoulders above the rest as the song’s definitive version.

Words can’t really do this rendition justice. The dynamic vocal performance brings the intensity down to almost a whisper at the crucifixion, but  soars to glorious heights when the resurrection comes. Meanwhile, from tight unison lines to dramatic power harmonies, the vocal arrangement brings a rich nuance. Finally, as discussed above, the matchless orchestral recording quality shines on this song more than any other. There has probably never been another single Southern Gospel track with better orchestral engineering.

:1: Song Selection: SouthernGospelBlog.com has a policy of only reviewing all-Gospel albums, Christmas or otherwise. Had the album contained ten or twelve Gospel songs recorded to this level of excellence, it would have been the best Southern Gospel Christmas album ever recorded. So, naturally, its technical superiority called for an exception to the rule.

Traditional or Progressive: Middle-of-the-road / fully-orchestrated.

Group Members: Group members: Brooklyn Collingsworth (soprano), Olivia Collingsworth (soprano), Courtney Collingsworth (alto), Kim Collingsworth (contralto), Phil Collingsworth Jr. (lead), Phil Collingsworth Sr. (baritone).

Credits: Produced by Wayne Haun. Engineered and mixed by Melissa Mattey. Mastered by Alan Silverman. Arrangements by Wayne Haun, Roy Agee, David Clydesdale, and Cliff Duren. Tracks recorded by Matt Andrews and Jon Hersey at Sound Emporium, Nashville, Tennessee. Vocals recorded by Jeff Pitzer at Quad Studios, Nashville, TN. Background Vocals recorded by Shane McConnel Studios, Nashville, Tennessee. Musicians: Kim Collingsworth (piano), Jason Webb (piano, keyboards, B3 organ), Hans Nelson (keyboards), John Hammond (drums and percussion), Craig Nelson (bass, hammered dulcimer), Kelly Back (acoustic/electric guitars), Jeff Taylor (penny whistle, accordion), Phil Collingsworth (solo trumpet). Orchestration recorded by the Nashville String Machine, conducted by Carl Gorodetzky.

Song List: Winter Wonderland/Sleigh Ride ; Christmas Can’t Be Far Away; It’s The Most Wonderful Time of The Year; Christmas Time Is Here; Overture/Silent Night/What Child Is This; Beautiful Star of Bethlehem; Peace On Earth Tonight; Mary’s Little Boy Child/Jesus, What A Wonderful Child; My Gift Is Me; O Magnify The Lord; Who Is He in Yonder Stall; O Holy Night; I Wish It Could Be Christmas Forever.

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3:1 CD Review: But For the Cross (LeFevre Quartet)

But For The Cross (LeFevre Quartet)3:1 Reviews offer three highlights of an album and one area that could have been improved.

1: But For the Cross: This 6/8 song is bursting with power and energy. It’s one of those rare songs that combines the better elements of an anthem and an uptempo toe-tapper. Though “I’m So Saved” (see below) was the album’s lead-off single, this is likely the album’s big hit.

2: Come and See: Speaking of hits, this song’s writer, Rodney Birch is on a winning streak. He earned his first #1 recently, with Old Paths’ “Battle Stand” on the December 2012 charting song. Though an entirely different sort of song—this one’s a tenderly touching story-song—it’s  another hit waiting to happen.

3: I’m So Saved: Mere weeks after the album released, Paul Harkey left to join Ernie Haase & Signature Sound. This song shows the potential he could have had with the group if he’d stayed. The song requires a bass comfortable with incredibly low notes; here’s hoping the LeFevre Quartet can find replacement who can pull off this challenging arrangement with aplomb.

:1: More strong songs: If the Mike LeFevre Quartet had been able to pack an album full of songs as strong as their opening three, the album would easily have been a 4.5-star album, perhaps even a five-star album. Now granted, if you’re not the Booth Brothers, you may have a hard time finding songs as incredible as the Booth Brothers find in their inboxes. The song selection for this album is actually pretty strong for a group that’s up-and-coming. If they can kick it up a gear in the future, they aren’t far from being able to pull off a top-tier quartet album.

Traditional or Progressive: Middle-of-the-road, with progressive moments.

Group members: Harold Reed (tenor), Jordan LeFevre (lead), Mike LeFevre (baritone), Paul Harkey (bass).

Credits: Producers: Paul Corley, Tre’ Corley, Rick Sandige. Recorded at: Oak Tree Studio. Arranged, Mixed, and Mastered by Tre’ Corley. Engineered by Paul Corley. Musicians: Tre’ Corley (Drums, Orchestration, Programming, Synths, Keyboards), Jonny Brown (Piano, Keyboards, Organ), Duncan Mullins (Bass), Kelly Back (Electric Guitar), Joel Key (Acoustic Guitar, Banjo). Released by: Activate Records.

Song List: But For the Cross (written by Marty Funderburk and Caleb Collins); Come and See (written by Rodney Birch); I’m So Saved (written by Dianne Wilkinson); The Wedding Song (written by Glen A. Bates); Put it Right There (written by Gerald Crabb); We Are The Church (written by Gerald Crabb); Saved By the Blood (written by Brandon Barry and Douglas Roark); The Blessed Hope (written by Rebecca Peck); Someday Soon (written by Glen Bates); I’ll Let You Lead Me (written by Marty Funderburk and Daryl Williams); Standing on the Daily Promises (written by Daryl Williams).

Five-star songs: But For the Blood, Come and See, I’m So Saved.

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