Top 10 Songs Of 2008

I’ve taken the opportunity to revisit the albums that I’ve personally heard and/or reviewed this year, and compiled a list of the top 10 songs that were released on albums this year.  This list has NOTHING to do with chart action, or albums recorded in 2007 or earlier, but is solely a list of the 10 best songs I’ve heard on albums this year.  I’d dare say this list makes a pretty decent compilation.

  1. “When God Ran” – Kingsmen
  2. “Glorious” – Mike Lefevre Quartet
  3. “Holy Of Holies” – The Dills
  4. “Hallelujah Praise The Lamb” – Talley Trio
  5. “He Loves Me” – N’Harmony
  6. “Welcome To Heaven” – Triumphant
  7. “I Cast My Bread Upon The Water” – Gold City
  8. “The Blood On My Hands” – Skyline Boys
  9. “I Will Sing Of My Redeemer” – Talley Trio
  10. “Love Like The Sun” – Prophets

It’s hard to narrow down these songs, but these 10 have all stood out to me as songs that have knocked my socks off when I heard them.  I could very easily come up with another 5-6 that are probably just as deserving to be in this list, but this is my personal top 10 at this point in time.

Review: Skyline Boys – “Free And Forgiven”

This is the debut release by the Skyline Boys on Crossroads Music.  Personnel are Jodi Hosterman – Tenor, Rob Nykamp – Lead, Bobby Nitz – Baritone, and Dennis Powers – Bass.

Tracks

  1. Movin’ Out Of Here – Penned by Crossroads exec Chris White, this song, which was previously recorded by the Anchormen, gets the album off to a very strong start.  Great uptempo cut and nice vocals highlight this song.  Great way to open the disc, and this is definitely a barn burner.  9/10
  2. Heaven Is Real – Smooth midtempo number that is very reminiscent of the old Kingsmen tune “Come To The Water” from You’re Not Alone.  There is some nice descending harmony from the verses into the chorus.  This song allows the group to show off their blending ability.  Solid song.  7/10
  3. Oh What A Change – Upbeat song that utilizes a bit of a soul feel.  A nice use of block harmonies echoing from Rob Nykamp’s lead punctuates the chorus.  This is a really good song, and they do this style very well.  Nykamp really sells the song.  8/10
  4. Look For Me – Rusty Goodman’s classic gets a nice treatment by the group here.  I’m not a big fan of steel guitar, so I’d have left it off the track, but that’s just a minor sticking point for me.  A very smooth vocal by Bobby Nitz on the verses leads to some really nice harmonies from the group on the chorus.  It’s a fairly straightforward rendition, though there are some nice chord changes in the chorus both musically and vocally.  Another song that showcases the ability of the group to blend.  I really like the harmony inversion on the tag.  Very nice.  8.5/10
  5. I Can’t Wait For Heaven – This song was done by Signature Sound on their debut CD Stand By Me.  The Skyline Boys version is very similar, and done just as well.  Nice brass driven uptempo tune.  Very solid.  I like the round-like section on the tag.  7.5/10
  6. Mercy River – Inspirational ballad that has some of the best harmony on the disc.  Bobby Nitz provides a smooth vocal on the first verse.  I love the arrangement with all the moving parts in the chorus.  The song really takes off when the key changes and Jodi Hosterman takes the lead.  Hosterman does a great job on this type of smooth ballad.  The background harmonies on his verse are very nice, and the inversion on the chorus due to the key change really brings out the harmonies.  The tag is very pretty.  This is one of my picks of the CD.  9.5/10
  7. Glory To God In The Highest – This is pretty much note for note the same arrangement as Signature Sound.  It’s a solid version, but I think Ernie and the guys do it better.  5/10
  8. Don’t Drink The Water – This is a neat song.  It’s a midtempo, driving country sound.  The song is based lyrically on a “reverse psychology” take on the cliche “Don’t Drink The Water”.  It’s a unique take on Jesus being the living water.  This song is really enjoyable.  The tag features some really high notes from Hosterman,  as it’s in unison, but Hosterman is up an octave.  8/10
  9. Joy For The Journey – Another mid to up tempo tune that makes some nice use of brass instruments in the track.  Another solid song here, nothing flashy, but very solid.  7/10
  10. The Blood On My Hands – Another really nice ballad that allows Hosterman to show off his lower range on the first verse.  These are some really nice lyrics, and a nice performance from Hosterman and the rest of the group really accentuate the strength of these lyrics.  It has a fairly progressive feel, and some really nice tight harmony.  The second verse is performed as a duet between Nitz and Hosterman that is a nice break, with the full quartet coming back in on the last phrase of the verse leading into the chorus.  Another pick of the project.  A nice bridge with “Nothing But The Blood” leading to a key change takes us into the last chorus.  This is my favorite song on the disc.  10/10
  11. Oh What A Change (Reprise) – The second verse and following is reprised here to close out the disc.  A nice close to the disc.  Not really going to rate this, as it gets the same as above.

Overall:  8/10 This is a very solid CD for the Skyline Boys.  Jeff Collins produced the album and continues his typical great job.  The arrangements are solid throughout, though I wish “Glory To God” had been just a little different from the EHSS version, and are exceptional in several places.  These guys are “running with the big dogs now” since signing with Crossroads, and this CD shows that they are up to the challenge.  They’ve built their sound around Hosterman’s tenor vocals, and I find it to be a wise choice, as he anchors their sound very well.  There’s a lot of good stuff here to build on, and I’m looking forward to seeing these guys take off.

SG Insights: Jodi Hosterman – Skyline Boys

I recently had a conversattion with Jodi Hosterman, tenor for the Skyline Boys, to discuss the group and their soon to be released debut album from Crossroads.  Here is the interview:

WB: Some folks may not be too familiar with the Skyline Boys. Can you give us a brief overview of the quartet?

JH:The owner of our group Dennis Powers created the Skyline Boys in 1995. The group consists of Rob Nykamp at lead, Bob Nitz at baritone, Dennis Powers at bass, and myself at tenor. This lineup has been together almost 2 years now.

WB: How were you able to catch Crossroads’ attention? What role, if any, did your connections from your Kingdom Heirs tenure play in getting signed?

JH: Our affiliation with Crossroads came about through some business dealings with Zane King who co-owned Journey Records with Dennis. Zane was actually very instrumental in brokering the deal with Crossroads and we are very grateful to him both for his work in producing 2 of our projects and for “selling” Crossroads on the Skyline Boys. To my knowledge, my tenure with the Kingdom Heirs played no role whatsoever. I’d like to think it helped on some level, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a factor.

WB: Stylistically, what can we expect from the new CD? Is it similar to what you have recorded previously and how did working with Crossroads for this release stretch you musically?

JH: This CD is what fans have come to expect from the Skyline Boys: great songs, good singing, and a diversity of styles. This project has something for everyone. We have some straightforward Southern Gospel quartet songs. We have a cover of the classic Goodmans song “Look For Me.” And we have some great inspirational ballads on this CD. Our producer, Jeff Collins, was fantastic to work with. I had worked with Jeff before and I was really looking forward to working with him again. Jeff is great to work with in that he has a very clear idea about what he wants but he allowed us to present our musical ideas as well and we combined a little of each to make a great record. We sang some very intricate harmonies on this project and it was really nice to hear our hard work rewarded in the end product. I also wanted to mention the street date for the project. It is entitled “Free And Forgiven” and will be released on Wednesday night September 10 at the National Quartet Convention.

WB: What two or three songs really stand out to you on the new project?

JH: It is really hard for me to pick just a couple songs that stand out. This is by far our best project to date and I am thrilled with the results. One song in particular is called “Blood On My Hands.” It was written by Daryl Williams and is a fantastic song. I am very surprised that someone hadn’t cut this song before us but, maybe, it was meant for us to record it. It looks at the Crucifixion from our point of view. Meaning that, even though we weren’t present at the actual Crucifixion, we are still just as guilty as the soldiers who drove the nails and that blood they spilled is on our hands as well. But it is that very blood on our hands that has brought redemption. What a message! Our first radio single is also a “stand out” song in my opinion. It is called “I’m Moving Out Of Here” and was written by the President of Crossroads Chris White. Many people don’t know that Chris had quartets and used to travel back in the day and is a very accomplished songwriter. Now let me just say that we didn’t record the song just because Chris wrote it. It was pitched to us along with about 100 other songs and we wanted to cut it from our first listen. It is as pure “Southern quartet” as you can get. We are very hopeful that radio will embrace it and that folks will love it as much as we do.

WB: How much of an adjustment was it to go from the theme park schedule back to a typical road schedule?

JH: It was really no adjustment for me at all. Prior to the Kingdom Heirs, the road was all I knew. It was a bigger adjustment for me to go from the road to the park than vice versa. Now I will say that those KH guys have the best situation there is. You are home in your own bed most every night and you can watch your kids grow up before your eyes in real life instead of through pictures and the cell phone. But they pay a high price for that luxury. I have a lot respect for those guys and the work they do.

WB: What can fans expect from a Skyline Boys concert?

JH: A Skyline Boys concert is, for the most part, what you would expect from any quartet concert. Not a lot of hair, bad jokes, and some questionable fashion choices. Apart from that though, we take the presentation of the gospel very seriously. We want to be the best we can be musically so nothing gets in the way of the message we are singing. We are presenting Jesus when we sing and we want folks to see Him in every aspect of our program. We ask permission to give an invitation at the conclusion of each service as we feel that is the most important thing we will do: to give folks the opportunity to meet this Jesus we have just sung about. That is the primary goal of each member of the Skyline Boys and we are honored that God has entrusted His call to us.

Thanks Jodi, for taking the time to share a little about your ministry and your new recording with this blog and its readers!  Be looking for a review of the CD soon.

Skyline Boys Prayer Request

From Chuck Peters:

Sheila Powers, wife of Dennis Powers, owner and bass singer of the Skyline Boys Quartet, will undergo surgery on Aug. 20 for a double mastectomy and reconstruction for Inflammatory Breast Cancer. Doctors have assured Sheila that she would not have to do chemotherapy or radiation at this time.

Dennis and Sheila would like to say thank you to all of their fans and friends for their your support and constant prayers during this situation.

Encouragement cards, letters, flowers or calls may be directed to:

Sheila Powers
37306 Longmoor Farm Lane
Purcellville, VA 20132
(540) 668-9826

You will recall that the Skyline Boys were recently in the news, and are awaiting release of their first album with Crossroads.  Please remember them in prayer during this trying time.

Skyline Boys Sign With Crossroads

According to a press release from Crossroads, they’ve just signed the Skyline Boys to a recording deal. Normally I refrain from posting this stuff, but what makes this interesting is that the tenor for the group is Jodi Hosterman. Hosterman, as you recall, joined the group after an all too brief tenure with the Kingdom Heirs. Nice to see that he is returning to a major label with his current group, I really liked his sound with the Kingdom Heirs.

Here is their release:

The Skyline Boys of Purceville, Va. have just signed a label agreement with Crossroads Entertainment. Having had strong success throughout their career, the quartet is poised to continue that trend with this new agreement that will include recording, retail distribution and radio support. Skyline Boys owner Dennis Powers states, “We have had some great help along the way in helping us be successful at what we do. We now believe that this new association with Crossroads can only enhance our future possibilities”.

Having posted several top 40 songs over the last few years such as Worth The Trip, When I Walk Into Heaven and their latest You’ve Never Been Alone, the Skyline Boys have established themselves in Southern Gospel radio across America. As well, major concert promoters have experienced an artist that can not only deliver great music from the platform, but can also reach into the hearts of people with the great message of God’s never ending gifts. Crossroads executive Chris White says, “The Skyline Boys are a group of seasoned performers across the front line. They bring not only talent but experience with them. We are excited to see what new heights this traditional quartet can reach in the coming years, with the help of our great staff of people”.

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