Stronger Together: Nelons

NelonsGRADE:  A-

  • Album – Stronger Together (Limited Edition EP)
  • Artist – Nelons
  • Label – Daywind Records
  • Style – Traditional, Progressive, Country
  • Release Date – 04/29/16
  • Available For Digital Download? – Yes (Apple Music)

SYNOPSIS:

After one day of my reader survey, the top choice for why you come back to the blog is album reviews.  I try to be objective while adding just enough of my personal likes/dislikes to allow the every day Southern Gospel listener to determine whether it is a recording they want.

The Nelons and EP recordings seem to be standard.  Amber Nelon Thompson released a four song EP (Without Your Love) in 2014 that I named the top album release of that year; before releasing a full recording in 2015 (Just Sing).  The Nelons now follow by releasing a limited edition, six song EP for the album, Stronger Together.

This is the first Nelons recording to feature Autumn as part of the entire ensemble (Amber, Kelly and Jason).

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • The Nelons can do no wrong, musically, these days.  The music they are releasing to Southern Gospel listeners is some of the best you will find.
  • The album kicks off with the country flavored, “Just Can’t Make It By Myself”.  This song has been at Southern Gospel radio since the first of the year and is already one of the most played songs in my musical playlists this year.
  • The vocal strength of the Nelons is hard to beat.  Now, youngest daughter, Autumn proves she is another in a long line of accomplished Nelon vocalists.  Her performance on the bluegrass tinged “Family Chain” is stellar and the harmony work by the group will leave you in awe.
  • Kelly is joined by former band mate, Karen Peck Gooch on the song “You Can’t Make Old Friends”.  This song, originally recorded by Kenny Rogers, is a perfect song for Kelly and Karen to share.
  • Amber’s big feature on Stronger Together is the praise style, “Imagine Alleluia”.  You’re probably tired of hearing me say that Amber is the best female vocalist in Southern Gospel music.  That statement will continue to be affirmed with these kind of performances.
  • The only other up-tempo song, in addition to “Just Can’t Make It By Myself”, is “Days Of Jericho”.  The group does some ensemble work on this song that would have fit the Martins repertoire in the 1990’s.
  • The six song EP closes with the only song cover found on Stronger Together, “Then Came The Morning”.  While a strong performance, it’s hard to add anything new to a song that has been recorded countless times over the last 30+ years.
  • Strongest songs included in order:  “Family Chain”, “Just Can’t Make It By Myself”, “Imagine Alleluia”, “You Can’t Make Old Friends” and “Then Came The Morning”.
CRITIQUE:
  • The Nelons must have known by only giving listeners six songs, it would leave them wanting more.  In this case, that is exactly what happened.
  • Weakest songs included in order:  “Days Of Jericho”.

WRAP UP:

As was the case with Amber’s EP in 2014, this six song EP from the Nelons could very well compete for best album released in 2016.  Plenty of time left in the year for another artist to come along and wow we with something just as stellar as Stronger Together.

SONG/Featured Vocalist – Songwriter:  1. “Just Can’t Make It By Myself”/Jason; Ensemble – Gloria Gaither, William Gaither, Suzanne Gaither Jennings, Jackie Miller  2. “Family Chain“/Autumn – Joe Isaacs  3. “You Can’t Make Old Friends”/Kelly with Karen Peck Gooch – Ryan King, Don Schlitz, Caitlyn Smith  4. “Imagine Alleluia”/Amber – Jason Clark  5. “Days Of Jericho”/Ensemble – Jason Clark  6. “Then Came The Morning”/Amber – Gloria Gaither, William Gaither, Lon Christian Smith

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9 thoughts on “Stronger Together: Nelons

  1. These six songs were an enjoyable listen. However, I was a little disappointed to find 3 previously recorded songs. While I enjoyed the Nelons arrangement of “I Just Can’t Make It By Myself” it is not better than the Cathedrals version from the Master Builder album. Autumn does a great job on the Joe Isaac’s tune “Family Chain” but it sounds very similar to Sonya Isaac’s vocals. I don’t mind several song covers on a regular 10-12 song CD but it’s a little more obvious when there are only 6 songs. That being said, I did enjoy all of the songs on this album and I hope the Nelons add 4-6 more new songs and eventually release this as a full album.

    1. Maybe you meant Then Can The Morning from the Master Builder album?
      I actually think the Nelons version is better but think the Sig Sound version may have the edge over the Nelons.

      1. “Then Came the Morning” was on the “Something Special” album, 1982. “I Just Can’t Make It by Myself” was indeed on “Master Builder”, 1986.

      2. Ok, so I looked it up and you were right. I thought I Just Can’t Make It By Myself was a new song. I was amazed how similar the instrumentation was. So I guess covers aren’t so bad when a good song that was previously barely heard gets resurrected!

    2. I don’t know. I would have to say the Nelons version is more memorable to me than the original Cathedrals cut. The arrangement, to the overall presentation stands out.

    1. That is the same song the Isaacs recorded in the late’80’s? I am going to have to go back and listen to the Isaacs song because this sounded like a brand new song.

      1. Is it just me, or is it odd when someone like Autumn sings a lyric about her parents gone on to heaven–with mama singing along? Kinda like when The Isaacs song Mama’s Teaching Angels How To Sing and mama’s standing up there with them.
        I love both versions of both songs very much but I guess I think too literally!

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