Southern Gospel Views from the Back Row (Steve Eaton) and Musicscribe (David Bruce Murray) join forces once again to present the ‘must buy or not’ feature. Highlights and dislikes will be offered along with a definitive yes or no on whether the album is a ‘must buy’.
In this edition of the ‘must buy or not’ feature is the new album by the Anchormen. A couple of years in the making, due to personnel shifts, Believe finally made its way retail 02/28/12. Believe marks the return of Anchormen veterans Terry Carter (Baritone) and Dale Forbes (Lead). Holding down the high and low notes are Karl Rice (Tenor) and Paul Harkey (Bass) respectively.
Song list: (1) “Just As I Am (Prelude)” (2) “Meet Him There” – Melanie Goodman (3) “Some Things I Know” – Donna Beauvais/John Darin Rowsey (4) “Where Love Stood” – Donna Beauvais/Matthew Garinger (5) “Borrowed And Barely Used Tomb” – Charles Isbell/Zane King (6) “This Time Tomorrow” – Tim Chandler/Lana Chandler (7) “For Everybody Broken” – Lee Black/David Moffitt/Kenna West (8) “No Such Thing As Coming Clean” – Ben Storie/Dianne Wilkinson (9) “Ain’t It Good To Know” – Melanie Goodman (10) “I Enter In” – Wayne Haun/Joel Lindsey (11) “The Day Nobody Praised Him” – David Hill (12) “Just As I Am (A Cappella)”
SOUTHERN GOSPEL VIEWS FROM THE BACK ROW
- This is the strongest Anchormen recording since the original Carter/Forbes era in the early ’90s.
- Speaking of Dale Forbes, he is a singing machine on Believe. He has a featured lead on over half the songs on the recording. His return to the group is a huge asset. His vocal range displayed on this album easily ranks him as one of the top lead vocalists performing in Southern Gospel music right now.
- Forbes lead work on “Where Love Stood”, “Borrowed And Barely Used Tomb” (great song!) and “The Day Nobody Praised Him” are stellar. “Borrowed And Barely Used Tomb” should be a radio single choice.
- Terry Carter turns in a nice performance on “Meet Him There”. The listener is treated to some nice harmony singing on the chorus and even some steel guitar accompaniment. Paul Harkey is also one of the most talented young bass singers on the road. His lead vocal on “Ain’t It Good To Know” deserves a listen.
- I can’t overlook the ensemble work on the group’s current radio single “I Enter In”. One of my favorite radio songs so far in 2012.
- I like CDs that have an overall consistent theme, whether it be it lyrical or musical or both. Believe starts with Zane King playing a verse of “Just As I Am” on steel guitar. The CD ends with the quartet singing an a cappella verse of the same familiar invitation hymn. Using a classic hymn for bookends on a collection of new songs is preferable to the common practice of inserting a line from a familiar hymn into a new song.
- “Where Love Stood” is the strongest ballad on the CD. Dale Forbes sings this lyric with feeling, conveying a deep sense of conviction.
- “This Time Tomorrow” is the strongest upbeat song. Every line has an internal rhyme, so it had to be a technical challenge to write. This song also features Forbes.
- In fact, most of the songs that really stand out to me on Believe feature Dale Forbes. He’s outstanding on “The Day Nobody Praised Him.” “Borrowed And Barely Used Tomb” is another strong song for the Easter season. “Some Things I Know” is a good up-tempo song as well.
- While I was more than happy to hear Dale Forbes return with some of the best singing of his career on Believe, it would have been nice to get another feature from Terry Carter or Paul Harkey.
- The current lack of availability of this recording via digital download. This is too good a recording to not have it available for those of us who no longer purchase physical CDs.
- I don’t know if it was the producer, the group owner or the singers who called the shots on arrangement choices for Believe, but did they forget about Paul Harkey? Featuring Paul Harkey on just one song is comparable to having Lebron James on your basketball team and telling him to pass the ball 9 times out of 10 when he has an open shot. If Harkey hadn’t been so good on their last CD (2009’s Always A Road), I might not care so much now. But he was that good, and so I naturally had some strong expectations for this release.
- I hesitate to say anything about the songwriting, because I genuinely like all the songs on Believe. There’s just a line here and there that strikes me as blah. I don’t care for “meet Him here and He’ll take you there.” It might be OK as an isolated line, but in this song it’s the hook. It’s generic. I really like the rest of the lyric, though, and everything else about the song.
- YES – This album is classic Anchormen all the way. It reminded me of the great recordings the group released in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. It is easily the best Anchormen album since the original Carter/Forbes era Anchormen.
- YES – Despite my deep disappointment over the lopsided solo assignments, particularly for Paul Harkey, Believe is just as good as the best CDs I’ve heard in the past year or so.
UPDATE (March 27): Sometimes our ears fool us. Both Steve and David thought Dale Forbes had the lead on the song “Where Love Stood.” The tones are similar and it’s in a lead vocalist’s range, but that’s actually Paul Harkey. This obviously negates some of our complaints about the CD and makes it that much more of a Must Buy. Thank you to Brad Strider of Mercy’s Well for pointing it out to us!