Programming Note

Over the next couple of weeks, you may see several different (new) themes for Southern Gospel Views from the Back Row.  Word Press decided to remove the plug-in that allowed me to present the song of the day, so I am in the process to find a replacement.  Also, I was made aware the links to the songs in the voting round yesterday were not working.  They should be fixed by now.

Thanks for your patience over the next several weeks while I find the right theme for the blog.  Criticism is always allowed so I can make the proper changes.

VOTING: Greatest Songwriter: Round 1 – Poll 11

Today continues the voting in our search for Southern Gospel’s greatest songwriter series.  Please click on the link in the poll to hear a song written by poll 12’s eleven contenders.  Here are the rules for voting:

  • All readers of this blog can vote.
  • You are allowed to vote for up to three choices.
  • You are allowed one vote per day.
  • The top (5) by vote tally will advance to round 2.
  • Voting closes Monday (08/29/16).

**I received an email from several individuals claiming they can’t read the first contender on the poll.  For those that can’t it is Barbi Franklin**

Stronger Together: Nelons

NelonsGRADE:  B+

  • Album – Stronger Together
  • Artist – Nelons
  • Label – Daywind Records
  • Style – Traditional, Progressive, Country
  • Release Date – 08/12/16
  • Available For Digital Download? – Yes (Apple Music)

SYNOPSIS:

This week we take a look at the second of two new albums from the Nelons; Stronger Together.  Last week you got to read my thoughts on Family Harmony.

Stronger Together is a nice companion piece to Family Harmony.  Each one offers listeners something a little bit different.  I still believe the original six song EP should have stayed intact and one more new album released.

If you want to read my review of the six song EP, you can go HERE.  This review will focus on the six new songs not included in the original EP.

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • The Nelons took the McGruders hit single, “I’m Going Home With Jesus” and turned it into an awesome concert closer for the group.  I believe they found another by going back and recording the Gold City standard, penned by Sandy Knight; “I Think I’ll Read It Again”.  Can’t wait to hear this song performed live!
  • The group closes Stronger Together with an awesome, harmony driven song, “Angels Hover Near You”.  This is a song you would have heard the Nelons record in their 1980’s prime.  A must listen.
  • The group’s latest single on Southern Gospel radio is “My Father’s House”.  This mid-tempo song features Amber and takes on a bit of a country-style.  Some really nice harmony work with Autumn takes the song up a notch.
  • One of the few up-tempo numbers found on Stronger Together is a song penned by Jason and Jerome Olds titled, “Gate Of Heaven”.  A rollicking, fun number that should get a listen.
  • While I said I would only cover the six new songs not found on the original EP, I can’t leave this review without mentioning Autumn’s performance on “Family Chain”.  Hands down, the best song on the recording and one of the best recorded songs of 2016.
  • Strongest songs included in order:  “Family Chain”, “I Think I’ll Read It Again”, “Angels Hover Near You”, “My Father’s House”, “Then Came The Morning” and “You Can’t Make Old Friends”.
CRITIQUE:
  • While the vocal talent far surpasses most of what you’ll get in Southern Gospel music, the recording of the song, “The Awakening” felt out-of-place.  The song’s style is that of a Broadway musical theater tune.
  • Weakest songs included in order:  “The Awakening”.

WRAP UP:

As already mentioned, Stronger Together is a great companion piece to Family Harmony.  If I were to choose one, I would give a slight edge to Stronger Together.  If the Nelons knew they wanted to release two new albums this year, I believe they would have been better served to not release the six song EP and release these two nine song recordings.  Either way, both Stronger Together and Family Harmony should make my annual countdown of the year’s best albums.

SONG/Featured Vocalist – Songwriter:  1. “My Father’s House”/Amber – Jason Cox, Sue C Smith, Kenna Turner West  2. “One Little Word“/Kelly – Constant Change, Jason Clark  3. “Family Chain”/Autumn – Joe Isaacs  4. “Then Came The Morning”/Amber – Chris Christian, Bill Gaither, Gloria Gaither  5. “Gate Of Heaven”/Jason – Jason Clark, Jerome Olds  6. “You Can’t Make Old Friends”/Kelly with Karen Peck – Ryan King, Don Schlitz, Caitlyn Smith  7. “The Awakening”/Ensemble – ??  8. “I Think I’ll Read It Again“/Autumn – Sandy Knight  9. “Angels Hover Near You”/Ensemble – Traditional

SWOT Analysis: LeFevre Quartet

lefevre-quartet-11-x-17-poster (375x190)I re-started the SWOT analysis feature up three months ago and haven’t posted since.  Lets change that.  Working in the business world, the SWOT analysis is used to determine the strengths and weaknesses of an organization while also looking at opportunities and threats the organization could face.

This week’s SWOT analysis will take a look at the strengths and weaknesses of Southern Gospel quartet; LeFevre Quartet.

STRENGTHS

  • The immediate name recognition of Mike LeFevre allowed the LeFevre Quartet an instant listen by most Southern Gospel audiences.  His time spent with Gold City and to have the legendary name LeFevre were both huge strengths.
  • Being a male quartet in an industry dominated by male quartets allows the group comfort that listening audiences will enjoy what is provided musically.
  • The hire of Jeremy Peace at tenor was a great decision.  His vocal talent at the tenor spot is unmatched by most in Southern Gospel music.
  • Having Mike and Jordan, both LeFevres, as a constant with the group allows stability among Southern Gospel listeners.

swotWEAKNESSES

  • The group has had consistent turnover in the bass vocal spot.  If I’m not mistaken, the group is currently traveling as a trio as they look for a new bass vocalist.
  • The quartet needs a few signature songs that will be immediately recognized as LeFevre Quartet songs.  That doesn’t always translate to success but it helps.

OPPORTUNITIES

  • Having the name LeFevre still in Southern Gospel music is a plus.  The group should do more to honor the LeFevre heritage in songs they perform in concert.
  • I would love to see a modern-day quartet revive, “Go Out To The Program”.  Performed by the Oak Ridge Boys in the early ’60s and then later by the Kingsboys in the 1980s.

THREATS

  • The consistent turnover at the bass vocal spot could ultimately leave the LeFevre Quartet a trio.  Look what happened to Brian Free & Assurance.  This could definitely cause the group to lose appeal with some listeners.
  • As Southern Gospel concert crowds continue to dwindle, this leaves the entire industry at a crossroads of where future revenue will be generated.

***NEXT SWOT ANALYSIS:  Nelons***

*Video Credit (Clarke Beasley)

Southern Gospel Tidbits

DID YOU KNOW?:  We have been inundated with summer Olympic coverage for the last two weeks.  This weekend wraps up coverage and as I had my musical library on shuffle the other day, two songs popped up that compared this life to running a race.  Even Paul, stated that when we get to the end of this life we will have run the race and kept the faith.  Link in the comments section any Southern Gospel song you are aware of that compares this life to a race or some other sporting event.

*Video Credit (paynesband)

*Video Credit (themcgruders)

VOTING: Greatest Songwriter: Round 1 – Poll 10

Today continues the voting in our search for Southern Gospel’s greatest songwriter series.  The song of the day on the sidebar is a sequence of eleven songs that were written by poll 10’s eleven contenders.  Here are the rules for voting:

  • All readers of this blog can vote.
  • You are allowed to vote for up to three choices.
  • You are allowed one vote per day.
  • The top (5) by vote tally will advance to round 2.
  • Voting closes Monday (08/22/16).

Family Harmony: Nelons

nelons2016familyharmony (300x300)GRADE:  B+

  • Album – Family Harmony
  • Artist – Nelons
  • Label – Daywind Records
  • Style – Traditional, Progressive, Folk, Country
  • Release Date – 08/12/16
  • Available For Digital Download? – Yes (Apple Music)

SYNOPSIS:

This week we take a look at one of two new albums from the Nelons.  If one recording is tough for an artist to get out every year, how about releasing three recordings in one year.

In April, the Nelons released an EP of six songs titled Stronger Together.  On August 12th, the group released (2) nine song recordings that included the six songs from the April EP.  Today, we will take a look at Family Harmony.

If you want to read my review of the six song EP, you can go HERE.  This review will focus on the six new songs not included in the original EP.

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • As we take a look at the six songs not found on the original EP, the stand out track on Family Harmony is the traditional country song, “Don’t Give Up On Me”.  Jason does an amazing job conveying the lyric on a song that may be too country sounding for Southern Gospel radio, but the best song on the album!
  • Eclectic can  be one way to describe the styles covered on Family Harmony.  From the country sounding, “Don’t Give Up On Me”, Autumn is proving she is as talented vocally as the rest of her family.  She proves that on the folk infused; “When Grandpa Sang Amazing Grace”.
  • Then you have Kelly featured on the progressive Southern Gospel ballad, “Greater Things”.  This is one song from Family Harmony that may find a home on Southern Gospel radio.
  • While I sometimes have problems with artists covering songs that have been recorded countless times before, when the cover is as good as Amber’s interpretation of the Dottie Rambo classic, “We Shall Behold Him”, it will definitely be regarded as a highlight.  This rendition will absolutely blow you away!!
  • With the eclectic mix of musical styles found on Family Harmony, the one distinction that keeps the album grounded in Southern Gospel is the harmony the Nelons possess.
  • Strongest songs included in order:  “Don’t Give Up On Me”, “Imagine Alleluia”, “When Grandpa Sang Amazing Grace”, “We Shall Behold Him”, “I Just Can’t Make It By Myself” and “Greater Things”.
CRITIQUE:
  • One classic song that tends to get over recorded is the Ira Stanphill song, “Suppertime”.  I would have found another classic to record in its place.
  • The idea of using three songs that were already included as part of an EP seems counter productive.
  • Weakest songs included in order:  “Suppertime” and “Days Of Jericho”.

WRAP UP:

The Nelons continue to prove why they are one of Southern Gospel’s best artists touring today.  Their vocal strength alone puts many other artists to shame.  I tend to enjoy trained vocalists show their capabilities and the Nelons do just that with Family Harmony.  Next week, I will take a look at Stronger Together to see which of the two new releases is better.

SONG/Featured Vocalist – Songwriter:  1. “I Just Can’t Make It By Myself”/Jason; Ensemble – Bill Gaither, Gloria Gaither, Suzanne Jennings, JD Miller  2. “Greater Things“/Kelly – David Moffitt, Jonathan Shaw  3. “Days Of Jericho”/Ensemble – Jason Clark  4. “Imagine Alleluia”/Amber – Jason Clark  5. “Suppertime”/Jason with Bill Gaither – Ira Stanphill  6. “When Grandpa Sang Amazing Grace”/Autumn – Wayne Haun, Barbara Huffman  7. “Don’t Give Up On Me”/Jason – Jimmy Yeary  8. “Songs That Answer Questions“/Ensemble – Bill Gaither, Gloria Gaither  9. “We Shall Behold Him”/Amber – Dottie Rambo

Hot Or Not? – “Living In The Promised Land”

The ‘hot or not’ series allows you, the reader, to let artists/record labels know if they are choosing the right songs for radio.

This week, is the new single from Triumphant’s 2015 album, Living In Harmony.  Wayne Haun and Joel Lindsey came together to pen, “Living In The Promised Land”.  What say ye; hot or not?