Monday, January 30, 2017

The Gospel - Lauren Talley - CD Review

It's the first CD review for 2017 projects, and the project I'm reviewing is Lauren Talley's new solo CD The Gospel. This is Lauren's fifth solo project and the first one since 2010. For this project, Lauren not only serves as singer and producer, but she also was a co-writer on four of the 10 songs.

Lauren had a who's who of artists joining her for this project - Brian Free & Assurance, Gordon Mote, Cindy Morgan and Riley Harrison Clark. Chris Allman and Amber Eppinette even joined her with background vocals.

It doesn't take you long listening to see the central theme of the gospel evident, but it's woven in each song.

No contest, my favorite song on this CD is "Everything." The first time I listened through the CD, I hit repeat on the song, and then I hit repeat again. The song speaks to a lot of those secret thoughts we don't really want to admit - feeling alone in a crowded room, feeling like we can't ever measure up. I can see a lot of people like myself resonating with the message and lyrics of the song. Thankfully, Jesus is everything. He's the arms that hold us. He's the one we need. It's not only lyrically so strong, but it's beautifully done. Cindy Morgan joins Lauren for the duet part.

A close second would be "Our Song Will Be Jesus." If you didn't get the chance to check out Lauren's release party via Facebook Live, the video is here. She talked about this song and the inspiration for it, seeing the trend of churches to get away from preaching the gospel and getting away from the fundamental truths of the faith. When the bad news comes and in the last days, as Christians we need to know how to stand. We need to remember Who and what we stand for and believe in. We need to be ready for our song to be Jesus no matter what happens. The song is a beautiful reminder of His faithfulness.

I love hearing Riley Harrison Clark and Lauren sing together. Their version of "The Prayer" is one of my favorites. Their duet is the Kristyn Getty song, "What Grace Is Mine." It's just beautiful from their vocals to the arrangement.

Brian Free & Assurance join Lauren on "I Believe." This song is the first one on the CD and really sets the theme of "the gospel." It talks about the strength of our faith that God will do what He says.

'The God Who Never Changes" is probably the most progressive song on the project. It's a song that you can't help get stuck in your head, but it's a great message to be reminded of throughout the day -- we can always count on the God Who never changes. "I Hear a Song" is the first single of the project and another fun, uptempo song. This is the song that Lauren sings with Gordon Mote.

Lauren shows how versatile her voice is with the variety of styles on this project from the contemporary "The Cradle, the Cross and the Crown" to the classic hymn "Hallelujah, What a Savior" to the upbeat "I Hear a Song." This is the first must-buy CD of 2017, definitely one you should add to your collection.

Songs to put on repeat: "Everything" and "Our Song Will Be Jesus"

Songs to turn up: "I Hear a Song" and "The God Who Never Changes"

Song to give a second listen (those songs that don't necessarily stand out on a first listen-through but then become a "repeat" song): "The Blood of Jesus Speaks for Me"

Song List -
1. "I Believe"
2. "The Cradle, the Cross and the Crown"
3. "I Am Not Ashamed"
4. "I Hear a Song"
5. "Everything"
6. "The God Who Never Changes"
7. "Our Song Will Be Jesus"
8. "The Blood of Jesus Speaks for Me"
9. "Hallelujah, What a Savior"
10. "What Grace Is Mine"

Saturday, January 28, 2017

In Case You Missed It - News and Tidbits - January 28

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

  • Mark Lowry announced his plans in 2018 will be to come off the road to regroup and focus on new projects. He has an upcoming podcast series with singer/songwriter and author, Andrew Greer entitled, “Dinner Conversations.” Although he will not be touring on a regular basis after 2017, he will still appear at select dates.
  • Soul Purpose Quartet's Judy Clapsaddle was unexpectedly hospitalized this week. After being transported to the ER, she was in respiratory failure, heart failure, kidneys and liver were failing, and her pancreas was non-functional. Earlier today, her daughter Misty said on Facebook that she is being put in a state of paralysis to keep her still and allow her to use her energy more on breathing. Please keep Judy and her family in your prayers.
Anything I've missed?

Saturday, January 21, 2017

In Case You Missed It - News and Tidbits - January 21

Here are some news and tidbits from this week in gospel music -

  • The Old Paths are returning to the road with Steve Ladd singing tenor. The quartet will be doing select dates starting this year. They are scheduled to be at the Memphis Quartet Show in June.
  • Michael Combs underwent kidney transplant surgery on January 9. Everything went very well, and he is at home recovering. Please continue to keep him in your prayers.
  • StowTown Records announced that the Collingsworth Family released its first violin duet album, Brooklyn & Courtney.
Anything I missed?

Friday, January 20, 2017

Fun Clip Friday - The Nelons "God Bless America"

The Nelons were one of the Southern Gospel groups invited to participate in inauguration festivities. They sang "God Bless America" at Arlington Cemetery yesterday. Although, the moment wasn't captured on cameras, they shared this video of their version of the song with their Facebook audience.

Enjoy for today's Fun Clip Friday!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Singer & The Song - Pat Barker - CD Review

When I was at Silver Dollar City's Southern Gospel Picnic this year, it was the first time I got the opportunity to hear Pat Barker as a soloist and pick up his new solo CD, The Singer & the Song.

That night, of course, we got to hear a few of the songs. My favorite that night and on the project is "I Can See (Emmaus Road)." He talked about how he had loved the song for a long time, but it wasn't the right time for him to sing it until it became personal to him. You can feel that through the song.

A close second favorite is "God's Amazing Grace." This is another favorite from the project! It's a great song from Dianne Wilkinson and Rebecca Peck.

"You Might Forget the Singer" has more of the country feel to it speaking to how a song's message can have a lasting impact on listeners. Fans might recognize this Gaither song. "Ain't God Good" follows that same style, more Southern Gospel feel than some of the other songs. Fans of gospel music will probably recognize this song that has been cut by Gold City and a handful of other groups. Pat's version is not to be missed. This is also his current single. You'll get to hear him handle several different parts on this song. "It's a Miracle" and "Just Yesterday" are two others that will get your toe tapping.

"Hitting the Road" is another more personal song that really talks about the sacrifice that Christian singers make by going on the road ministering.

Pat gets some help from the Guardians on "Think on the Good Things." It's another older Gaither song. It's good to hear the quartet on this project.

I can't say enough about the song selection. You'll get to hear several different styles from Pat on this project showing what a versatile singer he is. You can definitely tell he's had classical training but also can fit that "gospel style." He can also sing "Heaven Is Real" that has more of a 40s crooner feel to it. I love the variety he brings to a solo project. And, also I like how he picked a few older songs that newer fans might not know or that people might need to be reminded of.

Make sure that you pick up a copy of Pat's solo CD! You can order online or get one from him next time you see him.

Song List -
1. "You Might Forget the Singer"
2. "Ain't God Good"
3. "God's Amazing Grace"
4. "It's a Miracle"
5. "I Can See (Emmaus Road)"
6. "Just Yesterday"
7. "More Reasons Than Words"
8. "Anytime"
9. "Heaven Is Real"
10. "Hitting the Road"
11. "Think on the Good Things"

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Old Paths Return

This is news I think a lot gospel fans have been wanting to hear! The Old Paths are coming back on the road for select dates. Tim Rackley, Doug Roark and Daniel Ashmore are teaming up with Steve Ladd to tour again as The Old Paths.

The group announced they were coming off the road in May 2015 and sang their final concert in December 2015. Here's the full release from Crossroads -

Arden, NC. (January 17, 2017) - Crossroads Entertainment and Marketing is excited to announce the return of The Old Paths. After the success of their previous recordings with Sonlite Records and their incredible standing in the industry, we are looking forward with anticipation of continuing with them in this future endeavor. With former members Tim Rackley, Doug Roark and Daniel Ashmore and the addition of Steve Ladd on tenor, the group is poised to retain and even surpass their previous level of success.

From Tim Rackley
“When extenuating family circumstances warranted our departure from the road last December, we didn’t know exactly what God had planned. After much prayer and with our families faring much better—along with their support—we have made the decision to come back on the road for select dates as a group. We are thankful that God has opened this door for us, and we are honored to be able to minister as The Old Paths once again. We appreciate the continuing support of the Crossroads family and Harper Agency that has helped make this return happen. We feel very blessed to share this new phase of The Old Paths with Steve and are excited to see so many of our friends back on the road.“

From Steve Ladd
"I was excited when approached to be a part of The Old Paths return to Gospel music. I have always loved four-part harmony, and these guys are some of the best! I am so thankful for what God has done in my solo ministry. So, to be able to have a solo career still AND sing with these guys on select dates was a no-brainer for me."

From Ed Harper
“The Old Paths had many fans, churches, and promoters who were disappointed but understanding of their reasons for having to take a break from touring last year. Now being able to record new music and tour select dates will excite their fan base. The Harper Agency is glad that the Lord has allowed this door to reopen for Tim, Doug and all The Old Paths.”

From Chris White
“What a wonderful opportunity it is to re-unite with The Old Paths. Sonlite Records has had a great relationship with them and certainly look forward to continuing our partnership with them. With the addition of one of the industry’s most prolific tenor singers Steve Ladd, we feel the group will be stronger than ever. We can’t wait to get started and be able to service their loyal fan base once again with more great music and performances.”

New music will be available summer 2017 on Sonlite Records.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

In Case You Missed It - News and Tidbits - January 14

Here are some news and tidbits from this week in Southern Gospel -
  • The Absolutely Gospel Music Awards were announced this week. The Isaacs and Karen Peck and New River received the most nominations with nine each. See the full list here. Voting opens on Monday, and the awards will be held on April 11.
  • Congratulations to the Nelons who have the opportunity to sing "God Bless America" as part of the Presidential Inauguration when President Donald J. Trump lays the wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. 
  • Aaron & Amanda Crabb were also honored with an invitation to perform at Family Research Council’s Faith Freedom & Future Inaugural Ball. The couple joins a lineup of top performers, including best-selling comedian Chonda Pierce, at the black-tie gala following the inauguration.
  • Prayers go out to the family of Burton "Sonny" Ludwig, Jr. father of Sonya Browder and Burton Ludwig III. He passed away at age 80 on Monday. Services were held on Friday morning.
  • Prayers also requested for the Dunaways with the passing of Tammy Dunaway’s birthmother, Angela Powell Couch. Services were held on Saturday morning.
Anything I've missed?

Friday, January 13, 2017

Fun Clip Friday - Allegiance Trio: Time to Sing Show

Happy Friday! If you haven't gotten a chance to check out Allegiance's new video series Time to Sing, they are doing some great clips and interviews with artists. Here's one of their shows with Karen Peck Gooch. Enjoy for today's Fun Clip Friday!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Candid - Miles Pike - CD Review

I first heard of Miles Pike a few years ago when I reviewed his project Timeless Truth. This later project Candid takes a different turn from that project. The title really says it all, the lyrics of each songs speaks candidly to Christians. Sometimes it takes a more humorous approach. Sometimes it's pretty straightforward.

The project starts with "Hard" that talks about how hard it can be to live the Christian life and be like Jesus. The song really has a country flair. It's honest and something we can all related to. We all struggle with turning the other cheek when we've been wronged and being consistent in prayer like we should.

"Don't Unpack Your Bags" is a great story song. It unfortunately paints the picture of a lot of churches today where they don't really want to hear the church but only messages that will make them feel good.

Miles borrows a Ray Stevens song with "Would Jesus Wear a Rolex." Make sure you give his version a listen! "Live Your Life So the Preach Won't Have to Lie at Your Funeral" is of that same vein.

Yes, Miles can pull off those funny, novelty type songs, but don't miss what a great vocalist he is. He gives a great performance on the more tender, truthful "Man Against Man" and the great ballad "Hard to Get." And then skip over to hear his low bass range on "Modern Man." And then when you think he can't get better, you can really his range covering all four parts on the quartet song "Talk About the Good Times."

"You Love the World" hits Christians hard. This uptempo, catchy song shoots straight with believers. How many times do we catch ourselves loving the world and putting things of the world over things of Christ? Don't we choose the light of the TV often over picking up His Word? Ouch.

If you're looking for something that's not your typical Southern Gospel album with great singing and full of truth, pick up a copy of Miles Pike's Candid today.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

In Case You Missed It - News and Tidbits - January 7

Here are some news and tidbit items from this week in gospel music -

  • Allegiance Trio has announced Corey Lackey as its new tenor singer. Corey joins group members Kasey Kemp and Jake Sammons. He is 22 years old and has relocated to Nashville from the Detroit, Michigan area. Previously Lackey has been serving the group as the road manager and providing sound engineering.
  • The Hinson Family has welcomed Logan Smith. Logan periodically filled in with the family throughout 2016 after Christy Hinson was diagnosed and underwent surgery and treatment for thyroid cancer. Logan recently became engaged to Jordan of the Hinson Family.
  • Soloist Caleb Kelly has signed with Chapel Valley recording company.
  • Daywind Music Publishing has added songwriter Janice Crow to its ever-growing roster of writers. Janice was a writer on the #1 song "Amazing God."
  • New Day Christian Distributors is pleased to announce the addition of industry veterans Dusty Wells and Kyle Johnson to the New Day sales force. Dusty Wells has been named Director of Sales, while Kyle Johnson will serve as the Director of Inventory and Production.
Anything I've missed?

Friday, January 6, 2017

Fun Clip Friday - On the Couch with Fouch with Chris West

I'm trying to get back into the Fun Clip Friday routine for you. This week, it's the latest edition of On the Couch with Fouch. Matt Fouch's first interview of the new year is with Chris West, bass singer for Gold City.

Chris talks about getting started in gospel music and also gives some bass singer tips. Check it out below -

Thursday, January 5, 2017

New Year Resolutions

I'm one of those people who sits down every year to make new year's resolutions. And normally I make several, so if I reach a couple of them, I consider it a good year. Probably not the best approach, haha.

I've heard of some people taking a different approach with resolutions. For some people it's picking out a word or phrase, they want to live out the next year. Some people have more of a bucket list approach for the coming year. Others may just make one goal and actually stick to it.

But what if we approached the new year with music in mind? If there was a song that you wanted to define 2017, what would it be? What song would you want to live out this year? What song has the lesson that you need to learn in the coming year?

The song that I keep coming back to is "My God Will Always Be Enough" by Karen Peck and New River. What if I really focused on Him being enough for me this year? Because He is now and always. What I approached every day knowing that no matter what I faced He is enough? 

What song would you pick for 2017?