Review: Perrys – Blue Skies

This is the first Perrys release to feature Bryan Walker as the group’s baritone and was produced by Wayne Haun.  This project was actually completed and awaiting release with Troy Peach, but when Troy left and Bryan joined, the group decided to delay the release of the project until Walker could re-cut the baritone vocals.  There are pre-release copies with Peach singing that are now somewhat of collector items.  The official version with Walker joining Libbi Stuffle, Joseph Habedank, and Tracy Stuffle releases on Feb. 22.

Tracks:

  1. Blue Skies Coming – The album kicks off with an upbeat tune written by Joel Lindsey and Wayne Haun.  A kick drum and banjo start the song off before a full orchestra kicks in.  The group starts with a chorus before Joseph Habedank sings a verse solo.  After a repeat of the chorus, the key changes and Libbi Stuffle takes the lead for another chorus and a final tag.  After the vocal tag, the banjo kicks back in and there’s a brief instrumental fade.  The backing track to this song, with the prominent banjo and orchestra behind, is a bit reminiscent of “If God Be For Us.”  It’s a good, solid song that really plays to the Perrys’ strengths.  8/10
  2. Grace Doesn’t Remember – This is a power ballad written by Joseph Habedank, Kelly Garner, and Amy Keffer Shellem.  Joseph sings the lead on this song that features lyrics pointing to the fact that though we may remember our past sins and failures, the grace bestowed to us by Christ’s sacrifice blots them away.  It’s a similar message to another Perrys hit, “Calvary Answers For Me”, but with a nice lyrical twist, “Grace doesn’t remember what Jesus forgave.”  After a solo verse from Habedank, the group sings a chorus, then Habedank takes the second verse solo.  The harmonies in the chorus start low, and gradually rise throughout the duration of chorus which creates a feeling of building.  A bridge leads to a key change and a repeat of the chorus.  This is a strong song that will really reach listeners.  Great performance by Habedank and the rest of the group.  9/10
  3. His Love Lights The Way – The group reaches back to 1938 and pull out this convention style song written by Allen Frazier.  Since the group reformed itself with 3 males and Libbi, they’ve really excelled on the convention style songs, a la the Goodman style of singing.  This song is no different.  Especially notable is the blend between Tracy Stuffle, Bryan Walker, and Joseph Habedank as they provide backing vocals for Libbi Stuffle on the chorus.  Great job.  8.5/10
  4. Celebrate Me Home – Turning again to Wayne Haun and Joel Lindsey for material, the group strikes gold with this ballad featuring Libbi Stuffle.  This song has all the makings of another huge hit for the Perrys.  Anyone who has recently lost a loved one will be deeply moved by this song.  It’s a tremendous lyric that Libbi Stuffle is so adept at communicating.  There’s some really nice harmony and chord progressions in the chorus.  While it is a ballad in style, and a song about death, the song moves along at a nice tempo, and doesn’t plod along at a dirge-like pace that is too typical of songs with this lyrical theme.   I love the sustained vocal to the key change in the bridge, it’s one of the vocal highlights of the disc.  “Celebrate Me Home” is destined to become a trademark for the group.  Definitely a highlight of the album.  The harmony on the tag is simply gorgeous as well, I love Joseph’s moving harmony line.  I fell in love with this song as soon as I heard it.  10/10
  5. Nothing Was Burned But Their Bands – This fun song is a collaboration between Kyla Rowland and Dianne Wilkinson.  The first verse is a male trio with Tracy Stuffle taking a higher bass lead with Bryan Walker and Joseph Habedank above him.  The chorus is primarily the same trio, but with possibly a few parts added in by Libbi Stuffle.    Tracy sings the second verse solo, and does a fine job.  The chorus is repeated and tagged before Libbi comes in taking the lead from Tracy.  It’s a neat arrangement that really features the incredible blend in the three male voices.  Solid track.  7.5/10
  6. Rejoice, Children, Rejoice – This is a ballad from the pen of Kyla Rowland that has a bit of a country feel to it, similar to “Did I Mention” from the previous album.  Again similar to “Did I Mention”, Libbi Stuffle takes the lead on the song and sings the verses solo.  This song is right in her powerhouse, and she turns in her predictably strong performance.  A key change leads to the tag.  This song should become a fairly popular concert tune for the group.  8/10
  7. Sounds Good To Me – This is a fairly uptempo, progressive styled song from the pen of Joseph Habedank and Sue C. Smith.  This takes the Perrys in a fairly different direction as it has a more pop type feel, with Joseph singing the verses.  I really think Habedank shines in this style, as the pop feel really fits his voice well.  Longtime fans of the Perrys may not enjoy this song as much as it’s not a typical Perrys song, but I really like it.  9/10
  8. He Loves To Save – This is a midtempo, country flavored tune that features Bryan Walker.  Steven Carey, Joel Lindsey, and Wayne Haun contributed this number.  Though this song was originally chosen to fit Troy Peach’s more country style voice, Walker turns in a commendable performance.  After seeing his appearance on American Idol where he showed a more pop/soul sound, it’s interesting to hear him in this setting.  I’ll be interested to hear what type of songs are chosen for Bryan’s voice going forward.  He’s done both of these styles very well, and this is a solid song.  7/10
  9. Every Time I Need Him – This is an uptempo tune from the pen of Kyla Rowland.  The verses are done in a bit of a syncopated rhythm, somewhat similar to Gold City’s tune “Mighty Army Band”, then the rhythm smooths out to a traditional southern beat for the chorus.  Lyrically this song will remind listeners of another Gold City hit, “In Time, On Time, Every Time.”  The staggered entrance on the tag is an interesting way to end the song.  Another solid tune.  7.5/10
  10. I Know What I’m Singing About – This is another country flavored ballad that features Libbi Stuffle and was written by Kyla Rowland.  Lyrically this song follows the “common folk” theme that fits the persona of the group to a “T”.  Where the pop sound fits Joseph’s voice rather well, this is the style that plays to Libbi’s strengths.  7/10
  11. The End Of The Aisle – Contributed by Keith Tanner and Russel McQuaig, this is a midtempo country flavored song that features Bryan Walker.  Bryan has a very smooth voice, and his performance on both this song and “He Loves To Save” is effortless.  He really has a nice voice that blends extremely well with the rest of the group.  This is a solid song to end the disc.  8/10

Overall: 8.5 The last three projects from the Perrys have each had a different baritone vocalist:  Nick Trammell on Look No Further, Troy Peach on Almost Morning, and now Bryan Walker on Blue Skies, but the Perrys’ focus on strong lyrics, solid arrangements, and smooth singing have remained constant.  Blue Skies is no exception here; all of the songs here fit into that mold.  Producer Wayne Haun and the rest of the Perrys have combined to provide a very solid collection of songs that have timely messages and great performances throughout.  With Almost Morning, the group really stretched themselves musically and came up with an exceptional album; Blue Skies is a bit more restrained, and brings the group back musically to what has made them one of the most popular groups on the SG circuit today.  Bryan Walker is going to be a major asset to the group, and I’m really intrigued to see what kind of songs they pick to feature his voice going forward.  Tracy, Libbi, and Joseph all turn in their typical strong vocal performances.  I think that the combination of Habedank, who continues to mature into a fine lead vocalist, and Walker has endless potential.  Simply put, this is a project that both Perrys fans and SG fans in general will not want to miss, and is a great start to 2011.  A job well done by all involved.

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

3 Responses to Review: Perrys – Blue Skies

  1. lee65 says:

    Great review ,can’t wait to see them in concert again soon. Actually this weekend if i’m not mistaken , in louisville

  2. Fr. Patrick Gallagher says:

    Thanks for the review! I can’t wait to hear it!

  3. Pingback: CD Review: The Perrys – Blue Skies « Coomer Cove

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