July 21, 2009 5 Comments
This is the newest project from the Daybreak Quartet. Personnel on the recording are Joel Wood – Tenor, Dennis Fanning – Lead, Jason Prisk – Baritone, and Nathan Prisk – Bass. The only accompaniment on the CD is piano, with duties split between Tim Parton (tracks 1-4, 8, 9) and Daybreak’s part time pianist, Greg Howlett.
- Jesus Saves – The disc gets off to a nice start with this bouncy version of the classic hymn. Nice piano playing from Tim Parton and smooth group vocals make this a great opening cut for the album. Nathan Prisk really drags the bottom on the last note. 8.5/10
- Safe Am I/He Hideth My Soul – This song features Joel Wood and Nathan Prisk with the vocal arrangement from Tim Parton. Easily the most adventurous arrangement on the disc, it also is a highlight of the disc. The harmonies on the tag line are especially nice. For those wondering about Wood’s ability since he has moved to the Mark Trammell Trio, you have nothing to worry about, as he is an excellent tenor. Nathan Prisk has a remarkable bass voice as well. These guys do the little things well. As an example, when the song shifts to “He Hideth My Soul”, Joel Wood has the melody, and on the word “hideth”, the other three parts are singing straight quarter notes, but Wood sings a dotted quarter then comes back in staggered with an eighth note, which is a common practice in hymns, but not so much in SG structure. This is a great cut. 10/10
- Where Could I Go? – I’ll admit I was not too thrilled to see this song in the song listing, as I figured it would be a repeat of the Gaither Vocal Band’s arrangement that everyone and their mother has used since Homecoming. I am happy to say that isn’t the case. This is an enjoyable, midtempo, bouncy version of the song. Jason Prisk is featured on the second verse and turns in a very nice performance. Jason’s voice will remind you a bit of a fuller sounding Parker Jonathan. Nice cut. 8/10
- When The Roll Is Called Up Yonder – Straight ahead, uptempo arrangement of this convention style classic. Nathan Prisk sings the second verse wonderfully. His voice reminds me a bit of Chris West. Good tones, nice placement, just a really good bass singer. This ends with the requisite power tag. Solid, solid singing here. 8/10
- Constantly Abiding – Nice song with some smooth harmonies. The chorus features Wood and Fanning singing a duet, with the Prisk brothers providing some backing vocals. It’s a really neat arrangement that showcases the smooth blend of the quartet. Solid song. 7.5/10
- The Lord’s My Shepherd – I wasn’t familiar with this hymn, but it showcases some nice smooth vocals from the group. There are some really nice chords in this song. Another nice solid cut. 8/10
- Mansion Over The Hilltop – This is another song that can seem to drag, but again Daybreak speeds the tempo a little and gives it a nice bouncy rhythm that keeps the song refreshing. I’d been really burned out on this song, but enjoyed listening to their version. 8/10
- In The Sweet By And By – A lot of the arrangements on this CD have a bit of bounce to them, whether they are uptempo or midtempo, and this is another one. Nathan Prisk sings a bit of a countermelody on the first couple of lines of the chorus that is really nice. There are also some nice chord changes in the chorus as well. Nathan does a fine job on the second verse as well, with some nice backing from the rest of the quartet. The last chorus is done almost acappella with just some block piano chords until the last line. 7.5/10
- This World Is Not My Home – Nice mid to uptempo version of this classic. This is performed with some nice energy from the group. Dennis Fanning sings the second verse very solidly and is followed immediately by Nathan Prisk on the third verse. After the chorus, there’s a nice key change with Joel Wood taking the melody and a few changes in the chord progression. There’s some nice harmony on the tag as well. Very enjoyable. 9/10
- Near The Cross – This is my all time favorite hymn, and Greg Howlett contributed the vocal arrangement. It’s very smooth and different from the typical arrangement you hear on this hymn. The chord progression and vocals on the line “be my glory ever” is especially sweet. It’s given a soft, almost easy listening piano arrangement that works very well. Howlett’s piano playing on this song is superb as well. Joel Wood does a fine job on the last verse. There are some really nice moving harmony parts that you have to listen carefully for, or you will miss them. This may be the best version of this hymn I’ve ever heard. 10/10
- The Old Rugged Cross – This is a piano solo from Greg Howlett. It’s a very tender arrangement, fairly similar to the arrangement that he did for “Near The Cross.” Howlett is a very good pianist, and perhaps the best compliment I can give him is that it is very difficult to tell which songs are played by Parton and which ones are by Howlett. There is no drop in quality from the more well known Parton’s playing to the less well known Howlett’s. Howlett has extended a similar download offer for his most recent piano CD, and judging from this cut, it’s well worth taking advantage of the offer. 9/10
Overall: 8.5 Daybreak has put together a very solid, enjoyable collection of hymns. The pace varies enough from song to song that the album doesn’t become monotonous or boring, and the arrangements are good enough to stand on their own with just piano accompaniment. The Prisk brothers produced this recording, and should be commended for a job well done. While I wouldn’t foresee any radio hits from the disc (though several cuts are good enough), this is still a very enjoyable CD. Nathan Prisk may be the best bass singer you’ve never heard of, and Joel Wood will endear himself to SG fans with the Mark Trammell Trio. Nathan was kind enough to send me a physical copy of the CD to use for the review, which gave me access to the liner notes. Since I received it, I’ve had it in my car listening on my daily commute to and from work. This CD is perfect for a drive time listen, especially first thing in the morning. A CD full of simple, clean hymn arrangements just really sets the tone for the rest of the day. You still have until July 24 to get this CD download for free, and after listening, I’d say jump on it while you have the chance, and if you miss the free download, or if digital music isn’t your thing, it’s definitely worth ordering from the group. Nice job by all involved on one of the best hymns CDs I’ve heard.