Carry The Message: Steve Hess & Southern Salvation

SHSS2015themessageGRADE:  C+

  • Album – Carry The Message
  • Artist – Steve Hess & Southern Salvation
  • Label – Mansion Entertainment
  • Style – Progressive
  • Release Date – 09/04/15
  • Available For Digital Download? – Yes (Apple Music/Spotify)

SYNOPSIS:

I have been aware of a group by the name of Steve Hess and Southern Salvation for at least a decade, but this is my first introduction to their music.

Carry The Message is the latest album release from Steve Hess and Southern Salvation for Mansion Entertainment.  The vocal trio is composed of Steve Hess (baritone), Jay Arview (lead) and John McCall (tenor).

The group’s style is progressive Southern Gospel that is consistent with groups like Three Bridges.

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • The album starts nicely with the title track, “Carry The Message”.  I believe this was the first single from the recording.  It’s mid to up tempo style fits progressive Southern Gospel perfectly.  The title tells the listener what the song is conveying.
  • That flows nicely in to the Dianne Wilkinson penned, “Mercy Still Flows”.  Lead vocalist Jay Arview takes this country flavored tune and makes it one of the must listen songs from the album.  This song would make a good fit for Southern Gospel radio.
  • That is followed by another Dianne Wilkinson must listen, “This Time”.  This feature has big orchestrated production compared to the rest of the album.  Lead vocalist Jay Arview turns in another nice performance.
  • The group takes a departure from the progressive Southern Gospel style to sing a 1930’s flavored style song, “Heaven”.  There were some good harmony moments on this song.
  • The album closes with another up tempo, Jay Arview feature titled, “I’m On My Way”.
  • I’ll have to give the group credit for selecting songs from some of the industry’s best writers.  Song selection is definitely not a weak spot for Carry The Message.
  • Strongest songs included in order:  “Mercy Still Flows”, “This Time”, “Carry The Message”, “His Hand On Me”, “I’m On My Way” and “Heaven”.
CRITIQUE:
  • The group decided to record the over-recorded, “It Is Well With My Soul”.  With the thousands of versions of this song available for listeners, they didn’t need a thousand and one.
  • The biggest hurdle for Steve Hess and Southern Salvation is there is nothing, musically, to separate/differentiate them from the many artists already in the industry with a similar sound and style.
  • Considering I was familiar with the name of the group for at least a decade and this was my first introduction to their music is testament to my point above.  What can the group do to differentiate themselves from the countless other artists trying to gain listener’s attention?  That is a question only they can answer.
  • Weakest songs included in order:  “It Is Well With My Soul” and “Through The Years”.

WRAP UP:

Overall, I enjoyed my first introduction to the music of Steve Hess and Southern Salvation.  You can give them a listen and decide for yourselves if they are an artist you want to add to your Southern Gospel music collection.

SONG/Featured Vocalist – Songwriter:  1. “Carry The Message”/Ensemble – Dwight Liles, Michael Puryear, Kenna Turner West  2. “Mercy Still Flows“/Jay – Dianne Wilkinson  3. “This Time”/Jay – Dianne Wilkinson  4. “Ready”/John – Dwight Liles  5. “His Hand On Me”/Ensemble; Jay – John Darin Rowsey, Daryl Williams  6. “It Is Well”/John – Horatio Spafford  7. “Heaven”/Ensemble – Janice Crow  8. “Thank You Jesus”/Ensemble; Jay – Jay Arview, Steve Hess, John McCall  9. “Through The Years”/Steve – Fred Hess  10. “I’m On My Way”/Jay – Joseph Arview

*Video Credit (Various Artists – Topic)

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