Be Brave: McKameys

GRADE:  B-

  • Album:  Be Brave
  • Artist:  McKameys
  • Label:  Horizon
  • Style:  Traditional, Appalachian
  • Release Date:  06/09/17
  • Digital Download:  Yes (Apple Music)
  • Running Time:  29 Minutes

SYNOPSIS:

This week we take a look at the new album from the McKameys, Be Brave.  The album hit retail on Friday June 9th, 2017.

One thing McKamey fans can be sure of is an annual new recording from the group.  Be Brave marks the 53rd album in the group’s career discography.  That is impressive.

At this point in their career, the McKameys is not going to cover any new musical ground.  McKamey fans can expect the same traditional, Appalachian musical style the group has been providing since the start.

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Sheryl shines on Be Brave.  Not only with her rich alto vocal but also with the songwriting she provided the recording.
  • The stand out track is a song Sheryl wrote and is featured; “Living For Eternity”.  A nice mid-tempo number that should be considered for radio single.
  • Sheryl backs that up with a nice ballad feature, the album’s title track; “Be Brave”.
  • The McKameys give listener’s a convention style song to open the album, “So Good To Me”.  This would make for a great concert opener in the live setting.
  • The album closes on a strong note with the Connie feature, “Since When”.
  • The album’s first single is a Roger Fortner feature, “For The Record”.  He has been a go to recently as far as radio singles are concerned.
  • With a running time of 29 minutes, you can listen to Be Brave twice in the time it takes to listen to most Southern Gospel albums once.
  • Strongest songs included in order:  “Living For Eternity”, “Be Brave”, “So Good To Me”, “Since When”, “For The Record” and “Jesus Passed By”.
CRITIQUE:
  • Of all songs to cover, why “Come Forth As Gold”? This song was first recorded on Sheltered (1995).
  • Weakest songs included in order:  “Come Forth As Gold” and “One Thing I Know”.

WRAP UP:

The McKameys remain consistent to their style, heritage and their loyal fan base.  No need to ever paint outside that box.

SONG/Featured Vocalist – Songwriter:  1. “So Good To Me”/Ensemble – Tracy Jones  2. “Living For Eternity“/Sheryl – Sheryl Farris  3. “Come Forth As Gold“/Peg  – Sandy Blythe  4. “It’s Mine”/Ruben; Connie – Rebecca Peck; Dianne Wilkinson  5. “Be Brave”/Sheryl – Sheryl Farris  6. “On And On”/Connie – Sheryl Farris  7. “For The Record”/Roger – Sheryl Farris  8. “One Thing I Know“/Peg – Sheryl Farris  9. “Jesus Passed By”/Sheryl – Sheryl Farris  10. “Since When”/Connie – Kristi Fitzwater, Tim Parton

Best Of The Last Decade (2007-2016)

Through The Night (2012) – Perrys (Daywind): “I Got A Hold Of God This Morning“; “Whosoever Will“; “Everywhere I Go“; “Through The Night“; “He Is Good To Me“; “Too Good Not To Be True“; “The Blood And Its Power“; “One Of These Mornings“; “Unspoken Request“; “When He Spoke“.

Jason Crabb (2009) – Jason Crabb (SpringHill): “Somebody Like Me“; “Walk On Water“; “Daystar“; “Worth It All“; “I Will Love You“; “Through The Fire“; “Sometimes I Cry“; “Hope For Me Yet“; “One Day At A Time“; “Ellsworth“; “No Love Lost“; “Forever’s End“.

A Beautiful Thing (2007) – CrossWay (Big Ten House): “70 x 7“; “On My Way To Heaven“; “That’s All“; “Beautiful Thing“; “Took It All Away“; “Greatest Love“; “Hallelujah Side“; “When I Hear The Thunder“; “Wherever You Are“; “Surrendering“; “Thank God I’m Not Jesus“.

Southern Gospel Tidbits

DID YOU KNOW?:  John Stemberg sang baritone with the Anchormen for a couple of years between 1998 and 2000.  I believe the only album John recorded with the Anchormen was Reflections Of Life (1999).

John left the Anchormen to try his hand at acting.  He wrote the screenplay and acted in a 2006 crime drama film, Legit.  John also did some theater, acting in a stage production of The Beverly Hillbillies.

Testament: Perrys

GRADE:  B+

  • Album:  Testament
  • Artist:  Perrys
  • Label:  Stow Town
  • Style:  Traditional, Progressive
  • Release Date:  06/09/17
  • Digital Download:  Yes (Apple Music)
  • Running Time:  36 Minutes

SYNOPSIS:

This week we take a look at the new album from the Perrys, Testament.  The album hit retail on Friday June 9th, 2017.

The Perrys are celebrating 47 years in Southern Gospel music.  Testament marks the third album released by Stow Town Records.  The Perrys use Wayne Haun once again to produce Testament.

The 2017 edition of the Perrys are composed of Libbi Stuffle (alto/lead), Andrew Goldman (tenor/lead), Troy Peach (lead/baritone), Jared Stuffle (baritone) and Tracy Stuffle (bass).

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Libbi’s rich alto vocal has been the centerpiece of the Perrys sound for nearly 30 years.  She has the top three stand out tracks on Testament.
  • The best song on the album is the powerful, “I Will Pray”.  Libbi conveys the message with conviction on this soon to be Wayne Haun/Joel Lindsey classic.
  • The Perrys go back and cover the Primitive Quartet’s classic, “My Hope Is In The Blood”.  Libbi takes the song to new heights.
  • Libbi’s third masterpiece on the recording is another ballad, “Find Me Faithful”.  This would make a strong radio single choice.
  • Speaking of radio singles, the first from Testament is the stand out up-tempo song, “Moses And Elijah”.  This song of rapture, penned by Rebecca Peck and Dianne Wilkinson will have you hitting repeat.
  • The Perrys remind listeners of their convention style singing on the classic, “The Harder The Battle The Sweeter The Victory”.
  • It was great hearing Tracy performing on the barn burner, “Lord Send Me”.  While Jared turns in his finest performance to date on “Who I Could Have Been”.
  • Kudos for including some crying steel guitar, heard on the Troy Peach feature, “Sing In The Valley”.
  • Strongest songs included in order:  “I Will Pray”, “My Hope Is In The Blood”, “Find Me Faithful”, “Moses And Elijah”, “Let’s Stop For A Moment”, “The Harder The Battle The Sweeter The Victory”, “Lord Send Me” and “Sing In The Valley”.
CRITIQUE:
  • The country-style, “It Carried Him” seemed out-of-place with the rest of the album.
  • Weakest songs included in order:  “It Carried Him”.

WRAP UP:

The Perrys have a winner with Testament.  Could easily be one of the top album releases of 2017.  It is the best album the Perrys have released with Stow Town Records.

SONG/Featured Vocalist – Songwriter:  1. “Let’s Stop For A Moment”/Ensemble; Andrew – Kyla Rowland  2. “I Will Pray“/Libbi – Wayne Haun, Joel Lindsey  3. “It’s Not Here To Stay“/Troy  – ??  4. “Find Me Faithful”/Libbi – Jeffrey Bumgardner, Joel Lindsey, Karen Peck Gooch  5. “Lord, Send Me”/Ensemble – Ronny Hinson  6. “Who I Could Have Been”/Jared – ??  7. “Sing In The Valley”/Troy – ??  8. “Moses And Elijah“/Andrew – Rebecca Peck, Dianne Wilkinson  9. “It Carried Him”/Andrew – Wayne Haun, Kirk Talley  10. “My Hope Is In The Blood”/Ensemble; Libbi – Reagan Riddle  11. “The Harder The Battle, The Sweeter The Victory”/Ensemble – Traditional

Best Of The Last Decade (2007-2016)

In the ‘ask me anything’ feature, a reader asked me about the last Southern Gospel album I was really excited about.  It got me to thinking about the last decade in Southern Gospel music and the definitive albums released over the last ten years.

During the summer of 2017, I will be giving you my list of the (20) best albums in Southern Gospel music over the last decade.  I will just be printing track listings.  Click on the links to read the original reviews and hear the songs from the recording.

Count Me In (2012) – Hoppers (SpringHill): “Mighty Is The Word”; “That’s What I Love About Him”; “I’ll Take You Home”; “He Didn’t Just Carry The Cross”; “I Just Feel Like Something Good Is About To Happen”; “If I Can Help Somebody”; “Count Me In”; “I’ll Worship Only At The Feet Of Jesus”; “I Am Whatever You Need”; “I Will Serve Him”; “I Wish We’d All Been Ready”.

Living In The Moment (2013) – Beyond The Ashes (Stow Town): “So Amazing To Me”; “Living In The Moment”; “Oh The Thought That Jesus Loves Me”; “No Sin Greater Than God’s Grace”; “Peace In The Midst Of The Storm”; “Walking With My Eyes On Jesus”; “I Can’t Do This By Myself”; “Where The Gold Begins”; “When Love Whispers Your Name”; “Your Love Comes Shining Through”; “Over For Good”.

Southern Gospel Tidbits

DID YOU KNOW?:  Squire Parsons is one of Southern Gospel’s greatest songwriters, as well as one of the greatest baritone singers to ever grace a Southern Gospel stage.

After his exit from the Kingsmen in the late ’70s, Squire ventured out as a solo artist.  During the 1980’s, Squire released about a half-dozen trio recordings as Squire Parsons and Redeemed. Then in the late ’90s, Squire had the Squire Parsons Trio.

Did you know, that in 1992, Squire released one quartet album as the Squire Parsons Quartet.  Other Kingsmen greats, Ernie Phillips (tenor) and Arthur Rice (lead) were a part of this one of a kind album.

Are You Listening? Question 2

Several weeks ago I started a series where I provided my readers a way to express their view/thoughts on Southern Gospel music.  Let artists/industry folk know how you feel about certain aspects of Southern Gospel music.

The second question in the series is this; If you had to choose only ten artists (current) to represent Southern Gospel music; who would they be?

The Beginning: Bowling Sisters

GRADE:  B-

  • Album:  The Beginning
  • Artist:  Bowling Sisters
  • Label:  Custom
  • Style:  Progressive, Pop
  • Release Date:  03/10/17
  • Digital Download:  Yes (Apple Music)
  • Running Time:  49 Minutes

SYNOPSIS:

This week we take a look at the debut album from the Bowling Sisters, The Beginning.  The Bowling siblings have been performing at Bowling Family concerts for a while now.

These young ladies break away from their parents country-style and provide listeners with progressive Southern Gospel sounds mixed with pop.

The Bowling Sisters are Hope, Katelanne and Gracie.  Their parents should be proud of what these young ladies have accomplished with The Beginning.

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • The stand out track on The Beginning is a song that doesn’t fit the Southern Gospel market, but it grabs your attention from the first note.  The pop infused, “Higher Ground” is a must listen! The haunting melody stays with you long after the song ends.
  • The most Southern Gospel friendly song is the latest radio single, “He Sees What We Don’t”.  Always hoped 11th Hour would release this song, but glad the Bowling Sisters decided to record it.
  • The girls go back to the late 1980’s to pick up, “He’ll Do It Again”.  This was the go to song for aspiring female vocalists during this time.  Glad to hear it re-done.
  • The Bowling Sisters also show their prowess on an a cappella rendition of the traditional hymn, “At The Cross”.
  • The youngest sibling, Gracie, absolutely pulls at your heart-strings with “Fragile Hearts”.  The vocal maturity she shows on this number is outstanding.
  • Mike and Kelly should be proud.  Hope, Katelanne and Gracie show maturity beyond their years in what they’ve provided listeners.
  • Strongest songs included in order:  “Higher Ground”, “He Sees What We Don’t”, “He’ll Do It Again”, “At The Cross”, “Fragile Hearts”, “You Brought The Sunshine” and “Forever”.
CRITIQUE:
  • The girls may have considered cutting the two weakest songs and leaving the listener with ten songs.  A running time of 49 minutes causes a bit of listener fatigue by the end of the recording.
  • Stylistically, The Beginning may be a bit too bold for a good chunk of Southern Gospel listeners.
  • Weakest songs included in order:  “Stronger” and “That’s What He’ll Be”.

WRAP UP:

The Bowling Sisters wowed me with what they provided listeners on The Beginning.  Their vocal maturity, considering their ages, has to be heard.

SONG/Featured Vocalist – Songwriter:  1. “So Smile”/Gracie – Lee Black, Ben Storie  2. “He Sees What We Don’t“/Hope – Amber Eppinette, Joseph Habedank  3. “Higher Ground“/Katelanne  4. “You Brought The Sunshine”/Ensemble – Elbernita Clark Terrell  5. “He’ll Do It Again”/Hope; Katelanne – Hazel Trubee  6. “Fragile Hearts”/Gracie – Jessica Campbell, Jason Cox, Sue C Smith  7. “Stronger”/Katelanne – Keisha Buchanan, Mutya Buena, Marius De Fries, Felix Howard, Johnny Lipsey, Heidi Range  8. “I Love The Lord“/Hope – Richard Smallwood  9. “Forever”/Katelanne – Christa Gifford, Kari Jobe, Brian Johnson, Jenn Johnson, Joel Taylor, Gabriel Wilson  10. “Nothing’s Too Big For My God”/Ensemble – Nancy Harmon  11. “At The Cross”/Ensemble – Isaac Watts  12. “That’s What He’ll Be”/Katelanne – Lee Black, Kenna West