Review: Ernie Haase & Signature Sound – Here We Are Again

This is the first CD of primarily new material for EHSS since Devin McGlamery and Ian Owens joined.  To call this a highly anticipated release would be a bit of an understatement, so let’s just get to the tracks.


  1. Swing Low Sweet Chariot – The track starts with the sound of a movie projecter and and old-timey piano, before the song kicks off with a chorus from the quartet.  The retro feel continues throughout the song with the background “ba-ba-ba-ba-da-da” vocals behind the lead vocal on the verse.  After the first verse, there’s a “Dixieland” style vamp section before Ian Owens sings another verse.  The key changes and Ernie Haase takes the lead on the chorus.  This is a fun, light hearted tune that probably goes over well in concert.  8/10
  2. Singing In The Midnight Hour – Doug Anderson is to Ernie Haase what Bill Shivers is to Brian Free: worth every penny he is paid and then some.  This a very bluesy tune that really shows Anderson’s strength as a vocalist.  He’s got just the right soul to really pull this song off.  It’s a great tune and one of the best cuts on the album.  10/10
  3. Here We Are Again – This is a flowing, mid-tempo song with a little country flavor.  This song actually sounds like something you’d have heard from the Cathedrals in the early to mid 90s.  Ian Owens sings the first verse as a solo and does a magnificent job.  After a group vocal on the chorus, Ernie Haase sings the second verse leading into a key change before the chorus.  The chorus is then reprised with the harmonies inverted up.  This song shows that if you strip away all the showiness and cheesiness from the group, these guys can really sing.  Another great cut here.  9.5/10
  4. I Believe – This is Ian Owens’ signature song, beginning with his days in the Imperials.  As this is his first mainline release with Signature Sound, this is a great opportunity to showcase his abilities with a song that he is familiar and comfortable singing.  It’s a solid rendition and a nice arrangement.  7.5/10
  5. I’ve Been Here Before – Devin McGlamery gets his first mainline feature on this song.  It’s a mid-tempo song in 6/8 time with a bit of a soul/pop feel to it.  There are some really nice chord progressions in the verse, and a nice arrangement in the chorus.  McGlamery really does well with this sound, it really fits him well.  After the second verse, there’s a neat transition to a new key with Ernie Haase taking the melody.  Another strong song from the guys.  9/10
  6. You Are Welcome Here – Wayne Haun steps up to the plate with this song.  It has a bit of a pop ballad feel.  It’s a challenging lyric about the church fulfilling it’s purpose as the place for the hurt and downtrodden to find healing and restoration in Christ.  It hearkens back to the words of Christ that the healthy don’t need a doctor, the sick do.  There’s some nice background harmonies to Haun’s lead vocal in the chorus.  I really like this song.  9/10
  7. Love Carried The Cross – This is the lone power ballad on the album, and it’s a great one. Doug Anderson sings the first verse and carries the melody through the chorus, and does a fine job on it.  After the chorus , the key changes and Devin McGlamery sings the second verse.  Ernie Haase follows with the third verse leading to another chorus.  Much like “Here We Are Again”, this song strips away the show and allows the group’s vocals to shine.  As others have said, this is much like a power ballad you’d have heard from the Cathedrals during Haase’s tenure with the group.  9.5/10
  8. Stand By Me – This was the first song that the group really pushed hard when they organized, and Tim Duncan’s rendition became a standard for the group.  I get that.  Ian Owens is given the song to reprise here.  While the original was a great arrangement that went over well, this one is given an “over the top” treatment that just doesn’t do much for me.  I much prefer the original version.  I can see that it’s probably a fun performance in concert, but to me it doesn’t translate well in the studio.   4/10
  9. Everytime – This is a big risk.  No, this is a HUGE risk.  Let me first go on record as saying I LIKE the arrangement, the overall style of this song.  It’s different, it’s Motown/Soul meets Southern Gospel.  It sounds like something  off of the Blues Brothers.  Lyrically it’s a nice message of encouragement.  Ernie Haase takes the lead on this song.  The backing harmonies from the rest of the guys on the chorus are very well done.  Where this song falls a bit short is similar to “Stand By Me.”  It’s performed in a way that is probably great fun in a concert setting with people clapping and smiling, but on a studio CD it comes across as a little too much, almost sounding self-indulgent.  I get what Ernie was trying for here, and I’m sure it succeeds in concert (I’d LOVE to see/hear it), but not so much on a studio CD.  Maybe he should have saved this one for a live concert CD.  6/10
  10. Sometimes I Wonder – After a couple of misses, the album goes back to the hit side with this flowing acoustic flavored song sung beautifully by Doug Anderson.  This song talks about losing a loved one, and wondering what life is like in Heaven.  One the second verse, there’s some beautiful close harmonies that join with Anderson.  Those harmonies continue on the chorus.  This is my favorite song on the disc.  The vocal arrangement is outstanding, the performance by Anderson is flawless and it is exactly what the disc needed.  10/10
  11. Thankful – This is a soft ballad that is quite reminiscent of the song “We Are So Blessed” both musically and lyrically.  Ernie Haase has the melody on this track and it’s a very well performed song that has a bit of an understated arrangement that accentuates the message of the song very well.  It’s just a very pretty song that is well done.  8/10
  12. Any Other Man – In 1977, the Imperials released their album Sail On, which was the first to feature Russ Taff and David Will.  While the group had blurred the lines of Southern and Contemporary up to that point, the first track of the Sail On album was a rocking, electric guitar driven tune called “Water Grave” that was certainly a shock to fans of the group that had followed them since their days as a Southern Gospel quartet.  “Any Other Man” produces the same type of initial reaction.  Recorded live in Romania, this song is a total 180 from the quiet reflectiveness of “Thankful.”  It features electric guitars, heavy percussion, and I can detect a bit of a rock organ as well.  Devin McGlamery and Doug Anderson take the first verse, then Ian Owens and Ernie Haase take the second verse.  McGlamery, Anderson, and Haase take the third verse.  Haase takes the final verse.  There have been comparisons to Third Day, and that’s not too far off.  It’s definitely more of a rock type sound.  It’s “Water Grave”, Part 2.  And for the record, I loved Part 1, and I love Part 2 as well.  This song has prompted a lot of discussion to this point, and I don’t see that subsiding any time soon.  Count me in the “love it” group.  10/10

Overall:  8.5  As I have been listening to this album, I’ve had several other bloggers ask me my thoughts on it.  My response hasn’t really changed much with repeated listens.  When this album is good, it is REALLY  good.  When it’s not, it falls flat.  There really isn’t much middle ground here.  You can probably see in my individual song ratings that there really aren’t a lot of “middle ground” type ratings.  Fortunately, there’s a lot more of the “really good” on this album than the “falls flat.”  Doug Anderson and Devin McGlamery in particular really get some chances to shine on this album.  “Sometimes I Wonder”, “Here We Are Again”, “I’ve Been Here Before”, and “Singing In The Midnight Hour” are fantastic songs.  “Any Other Man” could be a defining point not only in the group’s career, but in the SG genre as a whole.  There are moments on this album that are magnificent.   When this album does fall, it isn’t for bad singing, or missed notes, or anything like that.  It’s fairly obvious that the main focus of Ernie Haase and Signature Sound is their live performances.  They are focused on providing concert goers with an uplifting, entertaining evening with songs that have messages pointing toward their Savior.  As a result, sometimes songs and arrangements that come across well in concert, especially songs that are meant to be more lighthearted and fun, don’t necessarily translate well to the studio.  I made this point in a conversation with another blogger, and I still think it’s a valid one:  when you go all out in the studio, like Ernie did with “Everytime”, what is there left to bring to the live performance of the song?  My personal preference would be to tone it down just a little on the studio version, then “go crazy” with it live.  By doing so, you bring that extra “oomph” to the live concert experience.

So overall, I think this is a fine CD with a lot of great performances, but with a couple that are probably skip worthy.  Again, both of those probably come across great in a live performance, but just don’t really translate well to CD.  Still, Ernie and the guys, including pianist and producer Wayne Haun, are definitely not afraid to take risks and try something new, and that in and of itself is much to their credit.  Nice job, guys.

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