OVERALL RATING: 7.95
- Creativity/Originality = 7.5
- Lyrical Content = 8.5
- Production = 8.5
- Song Selection = 7.5
- My Recommendation = 7.73 (11 song average)
I will admit, it gets tough reviewing albums from an artist who has such an extensive body of work like the Talley Trio. My overall rating on any new review is based on how the new recording stacks up to the artist’s entire body of work. How did Stories & Songs stack up to the Talley Trio’s other recordings?
A recording I didn’t get around to reviewing in 2010, Stories & Songs hit retail outlets 11/21/10. This recording missed making my year’s best list in 2010. The uneven nature of the recording was the main reason. The first half of the recording starts with great song selection and strong lyrical material. The second half of the recording then falls a bit flat.
The Talley Trio’s best recordings to date include Testament (2000), Hope For Tomorrow (2002), The Message (2003) and Rise Above (2006). Stories & Songs doesn’t quite match the caliber of those recordings.
In light of that, there are still some really great things about this recording. The knock-out punch of tracks #4 and #5 are the best songs on the recording. “He Is With You” takes a page from the country songwriting playbook and creates a gospel lyric that meets you where you are at in your every day life. There are several lines in that song that felt like they were speaking directly to me. This song would work well as a radio single.
Next up is a tried and true Talley Trio power ballad. “Thou O Lord” has #1 written all over it. The melody continues to build throughout the song creating that power ending that takes the listener along for the ride.
The album kicks off with a cover of Joel Hemphill’s “Good Things”. While there have been several covers of this song in the last decade the Talley Trio add a different arrangement and make it a great opening number on the album. Debra then turns in another great performance in “Who Will Pray”, followed by the story song “Someone Had To Die”.
If the second half of the recording was as strong as the first half, this would’ve been one of the top releases of 2010. “Hands Of Grace”, “Tell Somebody” and the lounge feel on “I Heard The Voice Of Jesus Say” didn’t gel with the rest of the recording. Also, without the risk of sounding anti-patriotic, the inclusion of “God Bless America”/”America The Beautiful” also felt out-of-place.
The Talley name has become an institution in Southern Gospel music. I have been following this group’s career since the beginning. I remember going to the local Christian bookstore (when they were still around) in 1984 and buying the group’s first Canaan Records album Wherever I Am. While there are some great moments on Stories & Songs, I would include it as a companion piece to fit between the group’s landmark albums.
SONG LIST: 1. “Good Things” 2. “Who Will Pray” 3. “Someone Had To Die” 4. “He Is With You” 5. “Thou O Lord” 6. “Hands Of Grace” 7. “Applause” 8. “Tell Somebody” 9. “God Lives There” 10. “I Heard The Voice Of Jesus Say” 11. “God Bless America/America The Beautiful”