Review: Kingdom Heirs – When You Look At Me

This is the latest project from the Kingdom Heirs lineup of Billy Hodges, Arthur Rice, Steve French, Jeff Chapman, Andy Stringfellow, Kreis French, and Dennis Murphy.  Their last CD, True To The Call, was released in 2007, so they took their time in releasing another major label project, and it shows.

Tracks:

  1. On The Gloryland Way – Midtempo traditional quartet tune written by Dianne Wilkinson.  This song features some nice smooth harmony.  The chorus starts with some dueling lead lines by Billy Hodges and Jeff Chapman.  This is classic Kingdom Heirs, playing to exactly what has made them one of the most solid quartets in the business.  The key changes for the last chorus with some harmony inversions on the end of some of the lines, leading to a nice high tag.  Solid, solid song.  8/10
  2. Biblically Correct – This Dianne Wilkinson/Rusty Golden tune has a nice jazz/swing feel to it, and features some smooth modern harmonies.  Jeff Chapman sings most of the second verse solo, with a line of the other 3 voices as a trio thrown in for good measure.  Chapman does a great job, and is one of the better bass singers on the circuit.  There’s a nice jazz chord on the end of the song.  I really like this one.  9.5/10
  3. He Locked The Gates – Uptempo traditional quartet song penned by Rodney Griffin.  This is the debut single, and is a great choice.  It features a nice trade off on lead lines between Arthur Rice and Jeff Chapman.  Rice and Bill Shivers of Brian Free & Assurance may be the two greatest, yet overlooked, lead singers on the road.  I like the way the vocals steadily climb on the last two lines of the chorus.  Rice sings the second verse and turns in his typical solid performance.  The key changes and Hodges takes the lead, then the key jumps up another half step.   I love Arthur’s suspend on the last chord.  This one should do very well on radio for the group.  9/10
  4. Help Me Lord – Another jazzy number, this one is a bit slower and features Jeff Chapman on the lead.  This is another cut from Dianne Wilkinson.  Some nice harmonies highlight the chorus, and Chapman shows off some his range, going from some nice higher notes back down to his typical bass range.  This would have sounded at home on a Statesmen album from the 50’s.  Arthur Rice takes the lead on a couple lines of the last chorus.  There’s a nice unison line with a key change as well.  Hodges takes the lead on the tag, and the last chord is great.  I like this tune.  9/10
  5. Fire Away – This is one of the more progressive songs on the disc, and featured Billy Hodges on the verses.  Again from Dianne Wilkinson’s pen, I concur with other reviewers that the chorus hearkens a bit back to Assurance’s recent hit “Praying Man” and features some nice bass work from Jeff Chapman. It’s a different lyric, but a good message about not watering down the truth in Scripture.  Solid tune.  8/10
  6. Turnin’ Loose – This is a bluesy tune from Joseph Habedank and Matthew Holt.  Arthur Rice is featured on this song, and he drills it.  He’s an incredible singer and proves it here.  8.5/10
  7. As Good As I Can Be – One staple of the Kingdom Heirs albums is a country/mountain flavored song that features Steve French, and this tune from Dianne Wilkinson fits that bill perfectly.  This style really fits French’s voice, and he always turns in a good performance.  This is no exception, and the lyrics are strong about the power of God to change lives.  The chorus features the quartet singing lines that surround a couple of solo lines from Steve.  Solid song.  7.5/10
  8. Steppin’ On Stars – The slow jazzy feel returns again for this tune from Dianne Wilkinson.  This song starts off very slow and deliberate.  These guys can do some thrilling modern harmony, and it shows on the chorus to the song.  Really tight jazz harmonies lead to a couple of solo phrases from Arthur Rice before the quartet comes back in.  Rice sings the second verse and milks it well.  The song to this point gives a feel of building up to a climax.  At the second chorus, Hodges drops below Rice for the first couple lines.  The song continues to feel like it’s building, and crests with a really high tag to end the song.  8.5/10
  9. When The Story Of My Life Is Told – This song, cowritten by Dianne Wilkinson and Scotty Inman, returns to the traditional quartet stylings that the group does so well.  The lyric provides a nice challenge about what our legacy will be when we leave this world.  The second verse features some nice solo lines from Jeff Chapman before the quartet comes back in.  This song should definitely please the male quartet fans out there.  8/10
  10. Jesus Showed Up – Another bluesy tune from Dianne Wilkinson that starts out with an interesting duet between Arthur Rice and Jeff Chapman that allows Chapman to go subsonic before the quartet comes in on a repeat of the chorus.  Arthur Rice sings the verses, and shows he can sing the blues style without blinking.  Rice also shows some range and emotion on the second verse, his vocals on the tag are stellar, and I love the way the quartet builds the tag individually.  Another nice solid song.  8/10
  11. When You Look At Me – This song starts with some smooth quartet harmonies with just piano and keyboard accompaniment.  The accompaniment stays very subdued and simple throughout the song, which allows the vocals and lyrics to shine.  There are some nice vocal harmonies in this song.  This song has a great message from Dianne Wilkinson about what God sees when He looks down at us.  Incredibly, this song clocks in at six and a half minutes!  It sure doesn’t seem like it’s that long.  While the length will most likely prevent it from being a radio single, this powerful “message song” should do very well for the group in concert.  Arthur Rice sings the second verse solo, and absolutely nails it.  This song has some high harmony in it.  Really good tune.  9/10
  12. The Empty Tomb Says It All – This Daryl Petersheim number was the winner of the Singing News sponsored songwriting contest last year.  This song moves along at a nice midtempo 6/8 time.  It’s easy to see why this song won the contest, it’s a really nice song with a great message.  The Kingdom Heirs give it a great, smooth treatment.  Billy Hodges sings the second verse solo and does a fine job.  Rice joins him for a couple of duet lines, with the full quartet coming in for the last two lines of the verse.  Good song.  8.5/10

Overall: 8.5 The fans of the Kingdom Heirs have come to expect good, solid, traditional quartet singing from the group, and this album doesn’t disappoint.  Arthur Rice and Jeff Collins produced this project, and did a fine job.  Dianne Wilkinson either wrote or co-wrote an astounding 9 of the 12 songs found on the project, and she seems to really be in tune with the type of material that fits the Kingdom Heirs sound.  This album doesn’t have a song that really blows your socks off, but it also doesn’t have anything that will have you reaching for the skip button, either.  Even the title track with it’s unusual length holds the listener’s attention for the entire time.  You’ll find yourself wondering if that really was over six minutes, because it sure doesn’t seem that long, which is a credit to the writer and the arranger(s) in keeping the song interesting.  This is a very solid addition to the Kingdom Heirs discography, and one that fans of the group and quartet singing in general will not want to miss out.  Good job by all involved!

About Wes Burke
I'm a .NET developer and Southern Gospel music fan. Married with a wonderful family.

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