Review: Liberty Quartet – The Journey

This is the latest recording from Liberty Quartet from Boise, ID and features Keith Waggoner, Tenor; Dan Gilbert, Lead; Jordan Cragun, Baritone; Royce Mitchell, Bass with Doran Ritchey as pianist, though Doran has since left the group to join up with Phil Cross.  While this is an independent release, it was recorded at Crossroads’ Studios.

Tracks:

  1. The Journey – This celtic flavored midtempo number was written by Doran Ritchey and Jim Davis and is a fine way to start the album.  I particularly the way they mix up the use of unison and two part harmonies in addition to the full four part quartet harmonies.  I also love the harmonies on the bridge.  This is a solid opener with nice vocals.  8.5/10
  2. He Came Down To My Level – Dwight Liles’ classic is given an acoustic, driving country feel, and even features a mouth harp prominently in the track.  It really gives the song a unique feel from other versions.  Bass singer Royce Mitchell is featured on the verses and he does a stand up job on them.  The vocal arrangement on this song is quite different than any other one you’ve probably heard, and that’s not a bad thing.  Mitchell gets the opportunity to smack some nice low notes on the last chorus when the harmonies are inverted.  I like the way Liberty made this song their own.  9/10
  3. I Made It Mine – Jordan Cragun gets his first feature on this Doran Ritchey penned tune.  It is given an acoustic/mountain midtempo feel.  Cragun’s voice really fits this story type song, and the vocals on the chorus are incredibly smooth.  This song really features some great singing.  This style isn’t normally my favorite, but this is a good song.  8.5/10
  4. I Love Living In Grace – This Rodney Griffin tune is given a big band jazz type feel, and this is Liberty at their best.  The verses feature some great four part harmony.  These guys know how to sing, and they excel with the jazzy songs.  Smooth vocals and some bass echoes from Royce Mitchell on the second chorus are highlights.  The key changes and Keith Waggoner takes the melody on the chorus from Dan Gilbert.  This is one of my favorite songs on the CD.  9.5/10
  5. Till There Was Jesus – A classic from W. Elmo Mercer is given a soft jazz treatment by the group.  As I said above, Liberty excels with this style.  The track features some nice jazz piano playing.  This is a great performance with some nice harmonies and chords.  Royce Mitchell gets the second verse as a solo and shows off some nice vocals.  The cascading harmonies leading into the second chorus are breathtaking.  This is a simply amazing track.  10/10
  6. God Made A Way – John Robinson and Twila LaBar contribute this driving country song.  Dan Gilbert is featured on this tune and shows that he is a more than capable lead singer.  Solid quartet harmonies highlight this track.  This is just a solid, solid song.  7.5/10
  7. He Came To Me – This ballad by Jeff Bumgardner is given a slightly progressive feel, and is the only song to feature tenor Keith Waggoner.  Keith is a very underrated tenor that has a nice full, smooth sound.  I really like the syncopated rhythm that shows up in spots in the chorus.  Powerful lyrics and smooth harmonies make this song another highlight of the disc.  9.5/10
  8. The Welcome – Doran Ritchey is featured on this song that he penned.  It’s an acoustic ballad, that has some great harmonies.  The message of the song is very strong as well.  I also really like the percussion on the track, it’s very well done.  Solid tune.  7.5/10
  9. Too Long – This Doran Ritchey tune is given a fairly straight ahead quartet reading by the group as it bounces along.  The chorus features a few solo pickup lines from Royce Mitchell.  There is some really nice close harmony in the chorus that is easy to miss if you aren’t listening closely.  Mitchell also sings the verses as a bass solo.  This is an enjoyable song.  8/10
  10. He’ll Come Through – This straight ahead mid to up tempo song was written by Doran Ritchey.  Dan Gilbert is featured on the verses here and he provides some smooth lead vocals.  Smooth quartet harmonies highlight the chorus.  This is another solid song.  The round like tag on this song is worth mentioning as well, it is very well done.  7.5/10
  11. In The Day Of The Lord – Jim Davis and Joel Lindsey penned this ballad, and Jordan Cragun does a fine job on the first verse.  The first chorus features almost a call and response feel from Cragun and the rest of the quartet in unison.  Cragun then sings the second verse.  The quartet comes in with nice harmony on the second that also features some nice quick cascading harmonies.  A bridge in unison builds the intensity to the last chorus again featuring smooth harmonies from the group.  This song fits the quartet like a glove, they really need to continue recording songs in this style.  Great job!  9.5/10
  12. Welcome To Heaven – Phil Cross’ classic originally recorded by the Singing Americans closes out the disc.  Lead singer Dan Gilbert really puts his own spin on the song, and doesn’t try to sound like Michael English (or Clayton Inman, for that matter).  I applaud him for resisting the temptation to try and do something that wouldn’t really fit his style.  As it is, he makes the song his own while still showing off some nice range, and there are some subtle differences in the harmonies on the chorus from the original version.  They have some nice passing tones as they change chords that really add a lot to the song.  This is very well done.  9.5/10

Overall: 8.5 Liberty Quartet has produced a very fine album with The Journey.  The group does a great job of selecting songs that fit their voices well.  They have the creativity and ability to add a lot of variety to their recordings without pushing their vocal ranges out of their comfort zones.  The tracks are all very well done, and the vocal performances are great.  These guys know how to sing, and how to sing correctly.  It continues to baffle me why they haven’t been signed by a major label yet, they most certainly have the talent and creativity to be an asset to any label’s roster.  Jordan Cragun has fit in nicely with the group’s sound, Royce Mitchell is an excellent bass singer, Dan Gilbert is a quintessential quartet lead, and Keith Waggoner has one of the finest tenor voices you’ll ever find.  This is a very good CD that you really need to check out.  Great job guys!

Note: This CD was supplied at no cost to the reviewer, however, this fact in no way influences the above review.
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About Wes Burke
I'm a .NET developer and Southern Gospel music fan. Married with a wonderful family.

One Response to Review: Liberty Quartet – The Journey

  1. Joye Howell says:

    Hello there, We just returned home after hearing your concert at Southwest Church in Indian Wells. It was really great , I was raised singing in quartets , trios and choirs, so appreciate the preparation that goes into your performance. You have a great blend, and as you can tell, I loved it. We invited two other couples to attend also and they enjoyed it also. One of the highlights for me was the sharing of Jordan Cragun about his Grandfather and his family and song afterward. Great!
    Thanks for your service to the Lord,
    Joye Howell
    joyehwll@yahoo.com

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