Review: N’Harmony – Favorites

This is the first release from the newly reformed N’Harmony.  Personnel are Brent Mitchell – Tenor, Shane Dunlap – Lead, Chris Whitaker – Baritone, and Will Van Wyngarden – Bass.

Tracks:

  1. Step Into The Water – Fairly straightforward, though slightly faster, arrangement of the Cathedrals’ classic song.  There is a slight change in the harmony on the choruses after the key change that really helps the arrangement.  Solid opening cut to the disc.  7.5/10
  2. Old Time Religion – Nice soulful rearrangement of the old spiritual that features Chris Whitaker, Shane Dunlap, and Brent Mitchell, respectively on the first verse and chorus, second verse and chorus, and key change then a repeat of the chorus.  The instrumentation is just a piano, which puts the vocals out front.  I love this, great arrangement!  8.5/10
  3. The Blood Will Never Lose It’s Power – Chris Whitaker gets the lead on the verses to this classic song, and really does well on it.  Whitaker replaced Clayton Inman with Won By One, and his first verse really reminds you of an Inman vocal.  Whitaker takes the second verse into a higher key and shows some impressive range.  Very solid cut.  8/10
  4. He Loves Me – This is an absolute gem.  Once again with this song the instrumentation is sparse, with only a piano and some light keyboard strings, and they have rearranged the song into a tenor ballad featuring Brent Mitchell.  Brent knocks this song out of the park.  His vocal perfectly expresses the sentiment of the very strong lyric.  This is the best arrangement of this song I’ve ever heard.  10/10
  5. Run On – This is an uptempo bluegrass influenced song that I’m honestly not familiar with other than this recording.  It’s a great song, with some challenging “spiritual-style” lyrics that is performed very well by the group.  This song really fits Shane Dunlap’s lead voice.  It’s sometimes hard to find radio friendly songs on a “favorites” type album, but this is one.  9/10
  6. It Is Well – Nice ballad style arrangement of this hymn featuring Chris Whitaker.  Whitaker has a very big voice with a nice range, he does well with these big ballads.  Very solid here.  8/10
  7. I Can See The Hand – Another classic Cathedrals’ tune that has been updated with a more driving 4/4 rhythm that replaces the bounciness of the original.  Both Brent Mitchell and Will Van Wyngarden perform their respective solo parts well.  After the key change, this song really pushes these guys into the stratosphere.  I’ve always liked this song, and this is a good solid version of it.  I really like the updated rhythm.  8.5/10
  8. Lord Feed Your Children – This song is performed in a ballad style by Shane Dunlap, who does a great job on it.  A lot of people would succumb to the temptation of trying to do a copy of Michael English’s soulful version of this from his GVB days.  Dunlap gets points for resisting the temptation and putting his own spin on the song.  Once again only a piano is used for instrumentation.  8/10
  9. Life Will Be Sweeter – Fairly straightforward version of the Cathedrals’ jazzy classic.  Piano only accompaniment once again.  The performance is great, the only thing I miss is that they end on a straight 1 chord instead of adding the 6th like most other versions of the song.  I like the fact that they tried something a little different, but I just miss the jazz chord on the end.  They also sped the song up a bit, which does work well.  7.5/10
  10. Beulah Land – Acappella rendition of the chorus to Squire Parson’s classic.  8/10

Overall: 8.5/10 This is a good solid CD, albeit of covers, that should do well in introducing N’Harmony back into the SG world.  These guys all have tremendous talent, and have meshed together very well in a relatively short amount of time.  The instrumentation on this CD is really pretty sparse, if you’re looking for full orchestrations and big brass driven songs, you won’t find it here.  The benefit of the understated instrumental tracks, however, is that the emphasis is firmly placed on the vocals with this album, and that is where these guys shine.  This is a good way to welcome N’Harmony back into the fold!

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