As promised, the ‘must buy or not’ album review has become a regular feature for Southern Gospel Views From The Back Row (Steve Eaton) and Musicscribe (David Bruce Murray). The album in this installment is Greater Vision’s new release, The Only Way. The recording will be available in retail outlets on 07/05/11.
Since tenor Chris Allman made his return to Greater Vision in 2010, Daywind Records has showcased the Griffin/Wolfe/Allman line-up on a collection of re-recordings (Welcome Back) and a hymns project (Songs Of The 1900s). The Only Way is the first mainline recording that features mostly new material by the reunited trio.
- The album starts in high gear with three of the best songs at the top of the recording; “He Didn’t When He Could’ve Passed By” (Griffin), “Safe Within His Hand” (Allman) and “No Longer Chained” (Griffin).
- “No Longer Chained” is one of the best songs recorded by Greater Vision in several years. The lyric is powerhouse and the melody is a nice mid-tempo country-style.
- As great a songwriter as Rodney Griffin is, it was nice to see Chris Allman featured in the songwriter credits along with Twila Labar and Steve Hurst. When a single songwriter dominates a recording, that recording can sometimes become musically repetitive and stale.
- The return of Allman to Greater Vision has added some vigor to the group’s music. I was pleased with the music presented on The Only Way.
- Greater Vision has made a habit of recording one classic song on their mainstream releases (“Too Much To Gain To Lose,” “We Are So Blessed,” etc.). The Only Way is no exception. These covers often feature Gerald Wolfe, but in this case, Chris Allman steps up and renders a stellar version of “I Know A Man Who Can.” I got chills.
- “He’s The Only Way” clicked the first time I heard it much like “My Name Is Lazarus” did. If you’re the sort who prefers slow introspective songs, jump to the next track (“Like I Wish I’d Lived”), but I was glad to see Greater Vision include a song for people who want to hear some drive in their Southern Gospel. This was a no-brainer for the CD title. It should be a no-brainer for a radio single, too.
- With Allman’s return, Greater Vision has injected some of his features with a touch of soul. I’ve already mentioned “I Know A Man Who Can.” “Eternity’s About To Begin” doesn’t quite make the overall impact of that track, but I love that slow intro with Allman accompanied by a B3 organ.
SOUTHERN GOSPEL VIEWS FROM THE BACK ROW
- The album starts strong and then there are several songs toward the middle of the recording that disrupt the pace of the recording until the last three songs end The Only Way on a high note.
- I am no expert when it comes to picking radio singles, but I do listen to a lot of Southern Gospel radio. “Like I Wish I’d Lived” seems like an odd choice for the first radio single with some of the power house songs found on The Only Way.
- Greater Vision cover’s “Heaven Can’t Be Far Away”. While good, the cover doesn’t have the same power felt in the original cut.
- I like “No Longer Chained,” but I’d like it even more if I hadn’t already heard “He’s Still Waiting By The Well.” The chord progressions are virtually identical.
- If I had some influence on song choices, I’d have suggested swapping “But God” (which we already heard Legacy 5 sing) for another barn burner like “He’s The Only Way” and “He Didn’t When He Could’ve Passed By.” “But God” is a good song, but four slow cuts in a row tends to bog down the listening process.
- YES – This is one of Greater Vision’s best recordings in at least a decade. With the few exceptions of a few slower songs in the middle of the recording, The Only Way is worth picking up.
- YES – The return of Chris Allman to Greater Vision was one of the highlights of 2010. Although they quickly put together a CD of previously recorded songs and have since released a hymns project under the radar, The Only Way is the first “big” recording since Allman’s return. As such, it qualifies as a Must Buy.