16: Highland Park

highland-park-300x299GRADE:  C+

  • Album – 16
  • Artist – Highland Park
  • Label – Custom
  • Style – Progressive, Country, Folk
  • Release Date – 10/07/16
  • Available For Digital Download? – YES (Apple Music)

SYNOPSIS:

Welcome to the first album review of 2017.  Still one of the most read features on the blog.  I don’t take for granted that you appreciate the way I present album reviews.

The first couple reviews of the new year will be 2016 album releases I didn’t get around to reviewing.  Up first, is new group Highland Park and their debut album; 16.

While the group may be new to you, the individuals in the group is not.  Noted singer/songwriter Phil Cross (tenor/harmony) came together with original Poet Voices members Howard Stewart (baritone/harmony) and Philip Hare (lead/pianist) to form Highland Park.  Jump Keys (musician) is the fourth member to round out the group.

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Original Poet Voices baritone, Howard Stewart gives listeners the most Southern Gospel friendly song on 16; “Family Of Faith”.  The song hearkens listeners back to the original Poet Voices days.
  • Highland Park’s sound is built around vocalist Philip Hare.  As a result, it gives the group a more progressive/folk style.
  • The group’s latest single, “Gonna Get Baptized”, features Philip and has already become a top 40 hit on the Southern Gospel radio singles chart.
  • Group members Phil Cross and Jump Keys co-wrote five songs on 16.  Along with “Family Of Faith”, listeners should take a listen to “Gonna Go With The Lord”.  It is a nice progressive up-tempo number.
  • The album closes on a high note with one of the few songs that feature Phil Cross; “Take The High Road”.
  • Another song from 16 that would do well at Southern Gospel radio would be the ballad, “I Want You Beside Me”.  Another song reminiscent from the original Poet Voices days.
  • Strongest songs included in order:  “Family Of Faith”, “Gonna Get Baptized”, “Gonna Go With The Lord”, “Take The High Road”, “I Want You Beside Me”, “Somebody’s Calling Your Name” and “Glory To Jesus”.
CRITIQUE:
  • Highland Park doesn’t want to define themselves with musical labels.  Listeners expecting to get a sound similar to the original Poet Voices will be disappointed.
  • There was stylistic monotony with several songs, not allowing the listener to differentiate one from the other.
  • Weakest songs included in order:  “Tell Me” and “Clean Up”.

WRAP UP:

It is nice seeing Phil Cross and Howard Stewart working together again.  Highland Park offers a diverse style palette that will appeal to a broad audience.  Decide for yourself; give 16 a listen.

SONG/Featured Vocalist – Songwriter:  1. “Somebody’s Calling Your Name”/Ensemble; Philip – Phil Cross  2. “Gonna Go With The Lord“/Philip – Phil Cross, Jump Keys  3. “Family Of Faith“/Howard; Phil – Phil Cross, Jump Keys  4. “Tell Me”/Ensemble – Phil Cross, Jump Keys  5. “Glory To Jesus”/Philip – Matthew Browder, Phil Cross  6. “Clean Up”/Philip – Wallace Strickland, Harvey Lee Watkins  7. “You Gave”/Howard – Phil Cross, Jump Keys  8. “Gonna Get Baptized“/Philip – Phil Cross, Jump Keys  9. “Jesus Gave Me Water”/Ensemble – Lucie Campbell  10. “Sowing The Good Seed”/Philip – Jenny Berens, Phil Cross  11. “I’ll Fly Away”/Phil – Steven Cheney, Phil Cross  12. “Jesus Built A Bridge To Heaven”/Ensemble – Glen Duncan, Mark Grantt  13. “I Want You Beside Me”/Philip – Phil Cross  14. “Take The High Road”/Ensemble; Phil – George Huff, Jerry Salley

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