Thursday, August 16, 2012

Canton Junction CD Review

Canton Junction
The first release from Canton Junction has been a highly anticipated one. The quartet consists of Matthew Hagee, Aaron Crabb, Michael Sykes and Tim Duncan. Although all four have had years of experience in the southern gospel industry, their backgrounds are extremely different. This is why the name Canton Junction, which means "the crossroads of different subjects or regions into one gathering point," fits them so well.

Canton Junction started somewhat spontaneously in preparation for special music at Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas. Their performance quickly became a hit and a must-see YouTube video

Canton Junction's debut project is a self-titled, two-disc release. This is not your traditional quartet album. Song styles range from Southern gospel to praise and worship to traditional hymns. 

Disc 1 Standouts:
  • "I Wouldn't Take Nothing for my Journey Now" - This upbeat song was a great choice to start the project. The group shines on this country-flavored song. 
  • "Show Me Your Way" - Aaron Crabb steps up on this song, and to me it has a Crabb Family sound that he could have recorded with his siblings. 
  • "Heaven Is" - This song features Matthew Hagee. It's a great up tempo song that shows the blend of all four guys.
  • "Go Tell It on the Mountain" - I love this song! It seems a little random to throw a song normally associated with Christmas into the mix, but it's a highlight of the project. They give a country twist that really shows the strength of the group.
  • "Softly and Tenderly" - The classic hymn shows the softer side of the quartet. They take their time with this song and let the lyrics speak for themselves. With such a diverse project, I think it was a great choice to include this hymn.
  • "The Inviting Christ" - Mark Lowry covered this song previously. It's not a song that is typical southern gospel, but I really enjoy their rendition of this song.

Disc 2 Standouts:
  • "Sweeter As the Days Go By" - This is the live recording of their performance at Cornerstone Church. I think including this song as their live performance was a great decision. This is the song that really caught a lot of people's attention, and it's one of  my favorites overall on the project. 
  • "Glorify" - Aaron Crabb wrote this song, which is more praise and worship style. While it deviates from the traditional southern gospel sound, I think it can help the group reach a broader audience than just southern gospel fans.
  • "Dig a Little Deeper in God's Love" - This is one of favorites as well. This song really showcases their blend as a quartet.
  • "Going Home" - Tim Duncan's bass vocals shine on this song. I really like the simplicity of the arrangement of this song with just the piano that really allows the quartet's vocals to come through.
  • "Hold On" - Their rendition of this song is another highlight, and one that will appeal more to southern gospel fans than other songs. 

While I enjoyed the variety that this project brings, I was not a huge fan of the secular songs on disc 2. However, the standout songs are more than enough to make this a worthy purchase. And where the group is strong, Canton Junction is really strong. I think there's a lot more potential for this quartet, and I can't wait to see what else is in store for them.

*Review copy provided

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