As the year draws to a close, it's time to look at the top albums of the year. Here are my top five:
Together Again (Crabb Family) - The Crabb Family released their first project as a family in seven years. Jason Crabb produced and arranged the album. I love how most of the songs featured all family members and didn't just showcase one or two. Stylistically, there is something for everyone. While it may not be a favorite for traditional gospel fans, I think it definitely lived up to the hype of a Crabb family recording and made fans excited about hearing the family together again.
4. Tribute to the Songs of Bill and Gloria Gaither (Booth Brothers) - The Booth Brothers did not fail to disappoint again this year with this tribute project. The 15-song album picks some of the best Gaither songs, some more well-known than others. The Booth Brothers helped bring new life with their great vocals and harmonies to some of these classic songs. Most of the songs are easy listening, and had there been a couple more uptempo numbers or cut down to the 12 strongest, it could have easily been higher in my opinion.
Love Won (The Talleys) - The addition of Brian Alvey to the Talley Trio produced one of the best albums this year. He not only added great vocals but also strong writing skills to the project. I think it's the best album the Talleys have ever released. The harmonies with all four members are incredible. I think a couple of the songs are among the strongest of songs on albums released this year.
2. Lifetime (Mark Trammell Quartet) - This album comes close the topping the list. I love the concept idea of the project, but it does include previously recorded songs (all but one). However, the songs aren't your traditional hymns or table project picks. They are all songs that have special significance for Mark Trammell. The Lari Goss arrangement on this project with the different medleys of songs are simply great. This group though has definitely hit its stride and is at the top of their game, and this album proves it.
1. Through the Night (The Perrys) - This was the second album with the current lineup, but the first one where all current group members have been involved from the beginning. Every song on this project is so strong individually that when the 10 are put together it is dynamite. It's not often that I find a project where I don't skip one song. Even with a re-cut of a Perrys song (which I prefer to the first version), the song selection is what sets this album apart. With the great Libbi Perry Stuffle ballad, the strong songwriting skills of Joseph Habedank and the all around great vocals, the album shows the Perrys at their best. It's definitely strong enough to top the list for 2012 in my opinion.
Other worthy album mentions:
Best Surprise Album of the Year - He Gives a Song (Murray Family) - I was not familiar at all with the Murray Family until receiving their CD. Great family group that is one to keep your eye on!
Album That's Great for a Long Road Trip - Canton Junction (Canton Junction) - This debut album of Canton Junction features two discs full of songs that set the bar for this new group.
Album That Is Never Far From my CD Player - Eyes Wide Open (Jeff and Sheri Easter) - This is one of my favorite albums from this year. Great songs with a strong theme of survival and coming through a battle.
Best Specialty Project - How You Walk the Miles (Karen Peck) - Karen Peck Gooch released her first solo project in many years with many guest vocalists. Definitely worth a listen!