Stronger Together: Nelons

NelonsGRADE:  B+

  • Album – Stronger Together
  • Artist – Nelons
  • Label – Daywind Records
  • Style – Traditional, Progressive, Country
  • Release Date – 08/12/16
  • Available For Digital Download? – Yes (Apple Music)

SYNOPSIS:

This week we take a look at the second of two new albums from the Nelons; Stronger Together.  Last week you got to read my thoughts on Family Harmony.

Stronger Together is a nice companion piece to Family Harmony.  Each one offers listeners something a little bit different.  I still believe the original six song EP should have stayed intact and one more new album released.

If you want to read my review of the six song EP, you can go HERE.  This review will focus on the six new songs not included in the original EP.

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • The Nelons took the McGruders hit single, “I’m Going Home With Jesus” and turned it into an awesome concert closer for the group.  I believe they found another by going back and recording the Gold City standard, penned by Sandy Knight; “I Think I’ll Read It Again”.  Can’t wait to hear this song performed live!
  • The group closes Stronger Together with an awesome, harmony driven song, “Angels Hover Near You”.  This is a song you would have heard the Nelons record in their 1980’s prime.  A must listen.
  • The group’s latest single on Southern Gospel radio is “My Father’s House”.  This mid-tempo song features Amber and takes on a bit of a country-style.  Some really nice harmony work with Autumn takes the song up a notch.
  • One of the few up-tempo numbers found on Stronger Together is a song penned by Jason and Jerome Olds titled, “Gate Of Heaven”.  A rollicking, fun number that should get a listen.
  • While I said I would only cover the six new songs not found on the original EP, I can’t leave this review without mentioning Autumn’s performance on “Family Chain”.  Hands down, the best song on the recording and one of the best recorded songs of 2016.
  • Strongest songs included in order:  “Family Chain”, “I Think I’ll Read It Again”, “Angels Hover Near You”, “My Father’s House”, “Then Came The Morning” and “You Can’t Make Old Friends”.
CRITIQUE:
  • While the vocal talent far surpasses most of what you’ll get in Southern Gospel music, the recording of the song, “The Awakening” felt out-of-place.  The song’s style is that of a Broadway musical theater tune.
  • Weakest songs included in order:  “The Awakening”.

WRAP UP:

As already mentioned, Stronger Together is a great companion piece to Family Harmony.  If I were to choose one, I would give a slight edge to Stronger Together.  If the Nelons knew they wanted to release two new albums this year, I believe they would have been better served to not release the six song EP and release these two nine song recordings.  Either way, both Stronger Together and Family Harmony should make my annual countdown of the year’s best albums.

SONG/Featured Vocalist – Songwriter:  1. “My Father’s House”/Amber – Jason Cox, Sue C Smith, Kenna Turner West  2. “One Little Word“/Kelly – Constant Change, Jason Clark  3. “Family Chain”/Autumn – Joe Isaacs  4. “Then Came The Morning”/Amber – Chris Christian, Bill Gaither, Gloria Gaither  5. “Gate Of Heaven”/Jason – Jason Clark, Jerome Olds  6. “You Can’t Make Old Friends”/Kelly with Karen Peck – Ryan King, Don Schlitz, Caitlyn Smith  7. “The Awakening”/Ensemble – ??  8. “I Think I’ll Read It Again“/Autumn – Sandy Knight  9. “Angels Hover Near You”/Ensemble – Traditional

Family Harmony: Nelons

nelons2016familyharmony (300x300)GRADE:  B+

  • Album – Family Harmony
  • Artist – Nelons
  • Label – Daywind Records
  • Style – Traditional, Progressive, Folk, Country
  • Release Date – 08/12/16
  • Available For Digital Download? – Yes (Apple Music)

SYNOPSIS:

This week we take a look at one of two new albums from the Nelons.  If one recording is tough for an artist to get out every year, how about releasing three recordings in one year.

In April, the Nelons released an EP of six songs titled Stronger Together.  On August 12th, the group released (2) nine song recordings that included the six songs from the April EP.  Today, we will take a look at Family Harmony.

If you want to read my review of the six song EP, you can go HERE.  This review will focus on the six new songs not included in the original EP.

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • As we take a look at the six songs not found on the original EP, the stand out track on Family Harmony is the traditional country song, “Don’t Give Up On Me”.  Jason does an amazing job conveying the lyric on a song that may be too country sounding for Southern Gospel radio, but the best song on the album!
  • Eclectic can  be one way to describe the styles covered on Family Harmony.  From the country sounding, “Don’t Give Up On Me”, Autumn is proving she is as talented vocally as the rest of her family.  She proves that on the folk infused; “When Grandpa Sang Amazing Grace”.
  • Then you have Kelly featured on the progressive Southern Gospel ballad, “Greater Things”.  This is one song from Family Harmony that may find a home on Southern Gospel radio.
  • While I sometimes have problems with artists covering songs that have been recorded countless times before, when the cover is as good as Amber’s interpretation of the Dottie Rambo classic, “We Shall Behold Him”, it will definitely be regarded as a highlight.  This rendition will absolutely blow you away!!
  • With the eclectic mix of musical styles found on Family Harmony, the one distinction that keeps the album grounded in Southern Gospel is the harmony the Nelons possess.
  • Strongest songs included in order:  “Don’t Give Up On Me”, “Imagine Alleluia”, “When Grandpa Sang Amazing Grace”, “We Shall Behold Him”, “I Just Can’t Make It By Myself” and “Greater Things”.
CRITIQUE:
  • One classic song that tends to get over recorded is the Ira Stanphill song, “Suppertime”.  I would have found another classic to record in its place.
  • The idea of using three songs that were already included as part of an EP seems counter productive.
  • Weakest songs included in order:  “Suppertime” and “Days Of Jericho”.

WRAP UP:

The Nelons continue to prove why they are one of Southern Gospel’s best artists touring today.  Their vocal strength alone puts many other artists to shame.  I tend to enjoy trained vocalists show their capabilities and the Nelons do just that with Family Harmony.  Next week, I will take a look at Stronger Together to see which of the two new releases is better.

SONG/Featured Vocalist – Songwriter:  1. “I Just Can’t Make It By Myself”/Jason; Ensemble – Bill Gaither, Gloria Gaither, Suzanne Jennings, JD Miller  2. “Greater Things“/Kelly – Jason Clark, Dony McGuire, Reba Rambo McGuire  3. “Days Of Jericho”/Ensemble – Jason Clark  4. “Imagine Alleluia”/Amber – Jason Clark  5. “Suppertime”/Jason with Bill Gaither – Ira Stanphill  6. “When Grandpa Sang Amazing Grace”/Autumn – Wayne Haun, Barbara Huffman  7. “Don’t Give Up On Me”/Jason – Jimmy Yeary  8. “Songs That Answer Questions“/Ensemble – Bill Gaither, Gloria Gaither  9. “We Shall Behold Him”/Amber – Dottie Rambo

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

VOTING: Southern Gospel March Madness – Final Four

We have reached the final four in the 2016 Southern Gospel music March madness competition.  The readers of the blog have spoken and voted the Gaither Vocal Band, Kingdom Heirs, Nelons and Karen Peck and New River as artists to represent the final four.  Here are the rules to voting.

  • All readers of the blog can vote.
  • I have set it up to where each person is allowed one vote per day.
  • This poll will close on Friday (04/08/16).

The Fab Five – April 2016

Time to kick off another month and another weekend.  I hope the fools didn’t get a chance to fool you today.  Let’s look at the five most played Southern Gospel radio songs in my musical playlists over the preceding month.  Enjoy!

GVB

*Video Credit (Gaither Vocal Band – Topic)

Nelons

Just Can’t Make It By Myself

FTS

*Video Credit (Forget The Sea – Topic)

Taylors

*Video Credit (The Taylors – Topic)

Talleys

*Video Credit (The Talleys – Topic)

VOTING: Southern Gospel March Madness – Round 3

We have reached the top eight in the 2016 Southern Gospel music March madness competition.  Here are the rules to voting.

  • All readers of the blog can vote.
  • I have set it up to where each person is allowed one vote per day.
  • This poll will close on Monday (04/04/16).

VOTING: Southern Gospel March Madness – Round 2a

Round two voting has begun for the 2016 Southern Gospel music March madness competition.  Not too many surprises with the artists that advanced today.  Here are the rules to voting.

  • All readers of the blog can vote.
  • I have set it up to where each person is allowed one vote per day.
  • This poll will close on Monday (03/28/16).

VOTING: Southern Gospel March Madness – Round 1a

The voting rounds have now begun for the 2016 Southern Gospel music March madness competition.  Let’s make this fun.  Here are the rules to voting.

  • All readers of the blog can vote.
  • I have set it up to where each person is allowed one vote per day.
  • This poll will close on Monday (03/21/16).