March 10, 2009 3 Comments
This is the first mainstream release with the lineup of Greg Cook, Ricky Atkinson, and Loren Harris on Resting Place Records. These three well known vocalists have joined forces to form a formidable trio, and sometime quartet with the occasional appearance of Gene McDonald as a bass vocalist.
- Here For Now – Traditional, country flavored midtempo number that is a solid start to the disc. Right off the bat, the trio vocals on the first verse illustrate the ability of this group to blend very smoothly. Loren Harris is singing the lead on this song, then when they hit the chorus, Harris has the melody on the first line, but it leads to a higher end to the line and Cook takes the melody for the rest of the chorus. It’s a neat little nuance to the arrangement that keeps the song interesting. Harris sings the second verse solo after a key change. Good solid opener to the disc. 7.5/10
- I Know He Can – A more progressive mid to up tempo number featuring Ricky Atkinson. This is the first radio single from the disc and is a very good choice. The chorus keeps a nice rhythm that breaks down for the next to last line. The chord progressions in the verses are also unique. This is a really good song that seems to be very radio friendly and should do very well for the group. 8.5/10
- Waving On The Other Side – Traditional ballad featuring Loren Harris that seems to be custom built for him. This type of song is where Harris really shines. This will probably be a very popular song for the guys, it has really good lyrics, and a great performance. 8/10
- Get On Board – Traditional quartet song that features a guest bass vocal from Gene McDonald. Nice midtempo tune with some nice moving chords on the end of the choruses. Atkinson sings the second verse solo and is singing lead on this tune. It’s interesting to hear the vocal dynamic change when Harris and Atkinson alternate between the lead part. A nice key change highlights the end of the song. This song is sure to get your toe tapping. Wonderful performance. 9.5/10
- He Went All The Way For You – This is a inspirational sounding ballad that features Ricky Atkinson. I really like this song, the message is great and the blend is incredible on it. This song and style really fit the group well, and Atkinson in particular does a good job on the lead. 9.5/10
- Good News – This is the other quartet song with Gene McDonald. This is a midtempo jazz/swing cut that features Greg Cook on lead. These guys have a great quartet sound with McDonald, their voices fit together quite nicely. There’s some nice jazz harmony interspersed in the verses that is pulled off expertly. I wish there were live strings and brass instead of synthesized, but that’s a really minor nit to pick. This is a really enjoyable song, and it really adds a lot to have the bass vocal foundation. Nice chord on the end, guys. 9/10
- Love Mercy and Grace – Mid to uptempo progressive song that has just a hint of “newgrass” with a heavy banjo in the accompaniment. Loren Harris takes the lead on this song. The background harmonies behind Loren on the second verse are great, and on the line “your redemption is drawing nigh” is musically one of the great moments on this disc. This is my favorite song on this album, and I think would make a great second single. This has a different sound from most anything I’ve heard recently. If you take the banjo out, it would almost have a contemporary feel to it. 10/10
- He’ll Never Forsake – Nice ballad featuring Greg Cook. Cook does really well with tenor ballads. He isn’t the highest tenor by a longshot, but he has a very pleasing voice, and this song is right in his wheelhouse, so to speak. Solid song, and Cook turns in a nice performance with some smooth harmonies behind him. 8.5/10
- We Will – Another mid to uptempo song with a bit of a driving country feel. Ricky Atkinson takes the lead on this song. The message is very strong, reminding us against complacency as Christians. There’s some really nice piano playing on the last chorus. This song would make a great concert closer for the group to leave them with a song to get the crowd to their feet. 8/10
- Outside The Gate – This is a cover of an old Wilburns hit. Harris and Atkinson trade off on the melody line between the verses and the chours. This is a very good cover of the song that matches up to the original very well. It’s a nice, fitting end to the album. 8.5/10
Overall: 8.5 I’ve been anxiously awaiting a mainline release from these guys since Ricky announced that Loren and Greg were joining him, and the wait was definitely worth it. The song selection is really good, the blend is really smooth, and the CD is very enjoyable, with quite a bit of musical variety. One thing that I mentioned in “Here For Now” is that there’s a seamless transition of the melody from Harris to Cook. That actually happens for a line or two in several places throughout the disc, and is something that is very impressive. It is not easy to pull off that kind of transition as well as these guys do, and it’s an example of the dedication to their craft that these three (or four) gentlemen exhibit. For a debut mainstream project, this is very strong, and these guys should do very well for themselves, and if they ever decide to go to a quartet with Gene McDonald, watch out! They have a very solid and versatile sound, and have released a project of which they can be very proud. Don’t miss this one!