Thursday, December 14, 2017

The Americana Sessions - The Nelons - CD Review

The Nelons released The Americana Sessions last month. The album might not be what you think when you first hear the title. It's not a collection of patriotic songs but a collection of American standards and ballads. Some are newer than others, but most of them you will recognize.

The project starts with the Glen Campbell song "Gentle on My Mind." This isn't the only country star the group takes on. Autumn Nelon Clark shines on "Coat of Many Colors." This songs shows off her voice so well. I got to see her sing this one live a couple of times before the release of the project. "Country Roads Take Me Home" is another country classic that is a duet with Kelly and Amber.

Kelly takes on the Anne Murray song "You Needed Me," which I'll confess I was not as familiar with. I thought this was a really great song for her. I love all the older country songs. Jason puts his stamp on the classic Merle Haggard song "Mama Tried."

Many fans probably know that Amber is a huge Disney fan, so I thought adding "Colors of the Wind" to the project was a great touch. Her version is incredible. My favorite cut of hers on this project though is "Oh, Shenandoah." The arrangement has mainly just piano background to really showcase her voice and her upper range.

The two more "gospel-y" songs are "Daddy and Son," which features Jason's vocals and songwriting abilities. This is a new song but definitely fits the theme of the project. The Nelons also recorded an a cappella version of "Battlefield."

The sisters take on the classic "Bridge Over Troubled Water," which is a definite highlight of the project. They switch back and forth on the verses and come together at the end for a powerful ending.

I really loved that they chose to include the "American Triology," which is a medley of songs "Dixie," "Battle Hymn of the Republic" and "All My Trials." Overall, I loved the theme of this project and the song choice. It really showcases the family harmonies and blends well. It has a variety of songs that really has something for everyone!

Songs to Put on Repeat - "Bridge Over Troubled Water"
Songs to Turn Up - "Take Me Home Country Roads" and "Mama Tried"
Song That Will Take You Back - "Coat of Many Colors"

Song List -
1. "Gentle on My Mind"
2. "Colors of the Wind"
3. "Coat of Many Colors"
4. "You Needed Me"
5. "Daddy and Son"
6. "Bridge Over Troubled Water"
7. "Oh, Shenandoah"
8. "Take Me Home, Country Roads"
9. "An American Trilogy"
10. "Mama Tried"
11. "Battlefield"

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Sing It Again - Jeff & Sheri Easter - CD Review

Jeff & Sheri Easter released Sing It Again in October of this year. The project is a collection of favorites and songs that you will probably be familiar with. The album is Jeff and Sheri at their finest. They put their Jeff and Sheri stamp and signature sound on this collection of songs.

The project is aptly named Sing It Again with that being the title track. They also do a reprise of the song as the final track. This might be the only track I didn't recognize, but it does a great job of setting the theme of the album.

The song selection of the project is definitely to be praised. While they select songs that audiences will be familiar with they don't chose songs that are "overdone" and they do a good job of making the songs their own.

"In the Sweet By and By" is a song I remember Jeff and Sheri singing on a previous Gaither video. I've always loved their version of this song. It's got some great fiddle and mandolin work. "Keep on the Sunny Side" is probably another song that you would have heard Jeff and Sheri sing before.

Let me just say it doesn't get better than Sheri Easter singing a Dolly Parton song. I love that they chose to include "The Seeker" on this album. This is such a fun, uptempo song that has some country soul to it. Sheri is also featured on "Wayfaring Stranger," which really shows the soulful side of her voice. The hymn "I Will Trade the Old Cross for a Crown" is another Sheri feature.

"'Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus" is my favorite hymn of all time, and I love Morgan's version. It really shows off the pure tones of her voice. This was a great song choice for her.

Jeff brings out the bluegrass with "On the Sea of Life." It's their style of bluegrass at its best. Jeff also is featured on the Hemphills' song "Sing the Glory Down" and "Where No One Stands Alone." Jeff turns in one of his best vocal performances on the latter. I love his version of this song!

Don't miss this new collection of songs from Jeff and Sheri Easter, it will have you wanting to play it again!

Songs to Turn Up - "The Seeker" and "On the Sea of Life"
Song That Will Take You Back - "In the Sweet By and By" and "Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus"
Song to Put on Repeat - "Keep on the Sunny Side of Life"

Song List -
1. "Sing It Again"
2. "In the Sweet By and By"
3. "The Seeker"
4. "Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus"
5. "On the Sea of Life"
6. "Wayfaring Stranger"
7. "Sing the Glory Down"
8. "I Will Trade the Old Cross for a Crown"
9. "Where No One Stands Alone"
10. "Keep on the Sunny Side of Life"
11. "Sing It Again" - Reprise

Saturday, December 9, 2017

In Case You Missed It - News and Tidbits - December 9

Here are some news items from this week in Southern Gospel music -

  • David Phelps and Cana's Voice have announced the Big Voice Tour to take place in early 2018.
  • Prayers go out to the family of Steve Lee. He was a member of the Cathedral Quartet from 1979-1980.
  • Matt Fouch is hosting an interview giveaway with his popular "On the Couch With Fouch" series. A new interviewee will be chosen by popular vote. Check out the list of those in the running on his Facebook page and be sure to vote!
Anything I've missed?

Friday, December 8, 2017

Cana's Voice - Concert Recap

I'm combining a Fun Clip Friday and a concert recap today. Several weeks ago, I got the chance to see Cana's Voice in Searcy, Arkansas. With this group's limited touring schedule, I was excited to see that they were going to be so close to me. I had seen them at Praisefest Branson and on tour with Mark Lowry but this was my first chance to see them in full concert by themselves. This is one of the most vocally talented groups on the road in my opinion.

It was a night filled with some traditional hymns, several songs from This Changes Everything and incredible testimonies.

Here are highlights from the night -
  • Doug and Jody both gave personal testimonies. It was great to hear them share their hearts. Doug that day had run into several travel issues and had a rough day to say the least. He sang "Jesus Saved Me (When I Couldn't Save Myself)" from his solo project. Then Jody gave his testimony about how God had worked and really performed miraculous deeds in his life before singing "Me," an incredibly powerful song.
  • They did a hymn request segment. Well, apparently Arkansans are not good at requesting well-known hymns. The first one I hadn't really heard of and the second was one I knew but wouldn't be able to tell you the words. The group was in the same boat. Haha! But then people started requesting the classics like "It Is Well," "How Great Thou Art," "Victory in Jesus" and "Power in the Blood." I loved hearing them sing these, and they even let the congregation sing along on a couple. But they ended the hymn segment with "Great Is Thy Faithfulness." Their a cappella version (clip above) is a must see and hear. It's absolutely incredible!
  • "Jesus Never Fails" - It doesn't matter how many times I hear this song, it's always going to be a highlight to hear it live. It's such a powerful song but powerhouse singers.
  • "I Won't Go Back" - Apparently this is not one they stage much but had a request for it. We've sang this in church a lot, but love their version of the song.
  • I loved hearing several others from their CD like "Love Anyway," "All My Reasons Are You" and "Big Enough."
If you get the chance to see this group, don't miss them!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Quartet Tribute - Tribute Quartet - CD Review

Tribute Quartet released its Quartet Tribute (say that five times fast :)) in October. The project pays tribute to well-known quartet songs over the years. I enjoyed hearing several of these songs live at the National Quartet Convention.

I really like that it's not just the classic quartet songs that they chose but also a few by that you may not be as familiar with like "His Tomb Is Empty Now" and "Hold On (Jesus Will Come)," or at least I wasn't. The group even chose a mixed quartet song like "Every Question Will Be Answered." I think the song selection of the project is spot on.

Don't expect this to be a "table project" for the group. It's production value is top-notch with Gerald Wolfe producing.

Most of the songs recorded don't stray far from the original versions of the songs, but you don't really expect them to either with this type of project.

While I do love the unique song selection, I did find myself gravitating toward their versions of some of the more usual suspects for quartet songs. Riley on "Hide Thou Me" is a standout track on the project. "Over the Moon" is not typically one of my favorite songs, but I also really enjoyed their version of this song. "I'm Standing on the Solid Rock" and "Come on Let's Go to That Land" are both great uptempo quartet songs that I'm glad they chose to include!

Don't miss the ones that you might not be as familiar with though! "Hold On (Jesus Will Come)" starts out with a very soulful, churchy feel. As someone not familiar with the original versions, I really loved Tribute's take on this song and felt like it was a great introduction to the song to new listeners. "His Tomb Is Empty Now" is a great midtempo song and really shows off Gary's lead vocals.

I think one of the best things about this album is that it's Volume 1, so there's more to come from Tribute Quartet's Quartet Tribute.

Song List -
1. "I'm Standing on the Solid Rock"
2. "Over the Moon"
3. "Every Question Will Be Answered"
4. "His Tomb Is Empty"
5. "Come on Let's Go to That Land"
6. "Hide Thou Me"
7. "Move That Mountain"
8. "What a Meeting in the Air"
9. "I've Been With Jesus (And I'm So Happy)"
10. "Hold On (Jesus Will Come)"