Armor: Wisecarvers

wisecarvers2015armorGRADE:  B+

  • Album – Armor
  • Artist – Wisecarvers
  • Label – Skyland Records
  • Style – Progressive, Country
  • Release Date – 12/11/15
  • Available For Digital Download? – Yes (Apple Music/Spotify)

SYNOPSIS:

In Saturday’s Southern Gospel tidbits post, I mentioned a song that has already caught my attention; the Wisecarvers, “Just To Save Me”.  Before 2015 closed, the group released their newest album, Armor.  As a result of the release date, this album will be eligible to compete in 2016’s annual countdown.

I was introduced to the Wisecarvers music with their 2013 release, Journey.  The group’s sound is built around lead vocalist Chase Wisecarver.  His commanding lead vocal is perfect for the group’s country, progressive Southern Gospel style.

Dustin and wife Kaila Wisecarver provide harmony and Kaila is granted several features.  The group is completed by Vince (father) and Tammy (mother) Wisecarver.

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • The song, “Just To Save Me” immediately stood out.  It is nice when you hear the writer of a song convey the message of their song.  Chase wrote “Just To Save Me”, which could finally give this family their first top ten chart hit.  This song is a must listen!
  • Chase also takes the lead on the album’s opening track, “Plain And Simple”.  If modern country sounds, which is largely prevalent in today’s Southern Gospel, tickle the ears, then you want to give this song a listen.  Kaila coming in on the chorus to counter Chase really adds to the appeal of the song.
  • I like how the Wisecarvers present their strongest group members on the majority of songs.  This is right out of the mainstream country music playbook.  Along with Chase, Kaila Wisecarver offers three features.  Her Miranda Lambert style vocal suits this group’s sound perfectly.
  • Kaila’s story in song, which she also wrote; “It Was Jesus” fits the mainstream country songwriting playbook.  A song about miracles that occur in our everyday lives.
  • Kaila is also featured on the poignant, “Don’t You Think You Ought To Worship Me”.  When songwriters attempt to write God/Jesus in the first person, it can be tricky to pull off.  To try to understand the mind of God is impossible with our mortal minds.  With that said, our mortal minds can at least relate to what the song is trying to convey.
  • There is some nice ensemble work on “Somebody Here”.  This tends to be the most Southern Gospel friendly song on Armor and would make a great radio single choice.
  • Of the few up-tempo songs on Armor, “Shine Me Up Some Armor” is the stand out.  After all the slower ballads, it is nice to hear Chase get a chance to show off a bit.  This is a song definitely worth a few repeats.
  • Strongest songs included in order:  “Just To Save Me”, “Plain And Simple”, “It Was Jesus”, “At Any Cost”, “Somebody Here”, “Shine Me Up Some Armor”, “Don’t You Think You Ought To Worship Me” and “More Than A Good Man”.
CRITIQUE:
  • The train trope is one that is overused in Southern Gospel music, but one that continues to be written in song.  The closing track on Armor, “The Station”, falls in to this trap.
  • Chase Wisecarver proves he is one talented vocalist.  There are a few spots on the recording that lends to some vocal acrobatics that may not translate as well in the live concert setting.
  • Weakest songs included in order:  “It Would Be Alright” and “The Station”.

WRAP UP:

Wow, what a way to start the new year.  If this is a sign of what to expect with album releases in 2016, it is going to be a great year.  Armor eclipses the group’s prior effort, Journey.  I would make it an effort to give Armor a listen because the name Wisecarver will be one that Southern Gospel listeners will know by the end of 2016.

SONG/Featured Vocalist – Songwriter:  1. “Plain And Simple”/Chase – Chase Wisecarver, Dustin Wisecarver, Kaila Wisecarver  2. “Give A Little More“/Kaila – Kaila Wisecarver  3. “Just To Save Me”/Chase – Chase Wisecarver  4. “At Any Cost”/Chase – Chase Wisecarver  5. “It Was Jesus”/Kaila – Kaila Wisecarver  6. “Shine Me Up Some Armor”/Chase – Chase Wisecarver, Kaila Wisecarver  7. “Somebody Here”/Ensemble – Kaila Wisecarver  8. “More Than A Good Man”/Chase – Dustin Wisecarver  9. “Don’t You Think You Ought To Worship Me”/Kaila – Dustin Wisecarver  10. “Hope, Faith And Love”/Vince – Vincent Wisecarver  11. “It Would Be Alright”/Chase – Dustin Wisecarver  12. “The Station”/Dustin – Dustin Wisecarver

*Video Credit (#TheWisecarvers)

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