Review: Beyond The Ashes – Living In The Moment
May 10, 2013 1 Comment
This is the first release on Ernie Haase and Wayne Haun’s StowTown label for Beyond The Ashes, and also marks lead singer Dustin Doyle’s first mainline project since joining with tenor Anthony Facello and baritone Kellan Monroe. Wayne Haun produced this album for Beyond The Ashes.
- So Amazing To Me – Written by Wayne Haun and Rachel McCutcheon, the CD gets off to a bit of a mellow start with this smooth ballad that has a bit of a pop/R&B feel. Anthony Facello has the melody line with Doyle and Monroe underneath him for the first verse and chorus. Facello sings the second verse solo before being rejoined by the other vocalists for the ensuing chorus. The lyric is structured and reminiscent of something that would come out of the modern P&W movement. There’s some really nice harmony and chord progressions on the bridge. I’m a sucker for a major 7th chord. The first two lines of “Amazing Grace” end the bridge with a key change and repeat of the chorus. It’s a good way to start. Fairly subdued, but with flashes of what’s to come on the disc. 8.5/10
- Living In The Moment – Fans of rock music may recognize this Jason Mraz tune that was penned by Mraz and Richard Nowels. Dustin Doyle is given the lead on this tune, and it’s a great fit for his voice. This is a midtempo song that has a bouncy pop feel. While the song is not an explicit gospel message, it is a good message about worry that puts to mind the listener of the words of Christ to not worry about tomorrow. Dustin has the verses solo, with Facello joining on the last line or two of the verses and Monroe joining on the chorus. This style fits the group well, and shows off their smooth blend. The fact that it is a secular song may turn some people off, but I really like it, and it fits the group perfectly. 9/10
- Oh The Thought That Jesus Loves Me – Originally recorded by The Collingsworth Family, this song from Wayne Haun and Lyn Rowell and is given a similar acoustic ballad treatment here. Beyond The Ashes may have actually slowed the tempo just a bit from the Collingsworths version. Anthony Facello and Dustin Doyle trade off on the melody line through the first verse and chorus. The key changes and Monroe takes the second verse as a solo. Doyle takes the third verse and makes a strong debut. He’s got a strong voice, but can sing incredibly smooth as well. The chorus has a fantastic smooth sound. 9/10
- No Sin Greater Than God’s Grace – Anthony Facello and Rachel McCutcheon contributed this midtempo pop flavored ballad. Facello takes the solo on the verses and keeps the melody through the chorus. Anthony has really developed into a top notch tenor vocalist from his days with Heaven Bound and the Journeymen. This is another solid tune that has a neat key change at the end of the bridge. It would actually make for a good radio release. It shows their progressive style without being too far “out there.” 8.5/10
- Peace In The Midst Of The Storm – Written by Stephen Adams, this is a soulful ballad that features Dustin Doyle. Doyle will likely make a lot of fans with this song. It could very well become a sugar stick for him. The first verse is fairly subdued with some nice vocals from the group in the chorus. After another fairly subdued second verse, the key goes up a half step and Doyle shines on the third verse. It’s actually one of the more traditional sounding cuts on the disc, but it’s a good performance. The only little quirk I have is the ending is fairly plain and a bit abrupt. Minor quibble on a nice song. 8.5/10
- Walking With My Eyes On Jesus – Rachel McCutcheon wrote midtempo song that returns to the bouncy pop/R&B feel that again features Dustin Doyle. Once again, Doyle shines on this tune. It’s a catchy tune and lyric that will get stuck in your head. Solid song. 8.5/10
- I Can’t Do This By Myself – Joel Lindsey and Wayne Haun penned this ballad that features Anthony Facello. It’s a nice lyric that reminds us of our inability to live a life pleasing to God in our own strength. The chorus features some nice harmonies from the trio. The last couple of lines have a unique rhythm to them, almost as if there is a line of lyric missing. It’s still a very solid cut that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Brian Free and Assurance album. 9/10
- Where The Gold Begins – Kellan Monroe is featured on this tune from the team of Carl Cartee, Joseph Dustin Daniels, Allen Stanford Dukes, David Blake Neesmith, Aaron Daniel Tomberlin, and Nathan Timothy Tomberlin. It’s an acoustic pop flavored midtempo tune. Once again, this song fits Kellan’s voice perfectly. It’s a story song about an elderly saint’s last moments on Earth and first moments in Heaven. I love the line that directly compares the two locations, “I’ve finally reached the place where gravel ends, and gold begins.” Monroe’s voice has a gritty edge to edge that communicates well in this style. Don’t miss this song, it’s a definite highlight of the disc. 9.5/10
- When Love Whispers Your Name – This song comes from the pens of Ernie Haase and Joel Lindsey. Dustin Doyle is featured on this moving ballad. I love the touch of the first verse starting with just Doyle’s vocal and solo piano. There’s no high ending, nothing incredibly flashy, but Dustin does a great job putting the right amount of emotion in this tender lyric. Another very solid song. 8.5/10
- Your Love Comes Shining Through – Wayne Haun and Jimmy Yeary contribute this bouncy little tune featuring Dustin Doyle. This is another pop styled tune that works very well for the group. It’s another really catchy tune, from the piano on the introduction to the end of the tag. This is a song that leaves your toe tapping and smile plastered on your face. Doyle’s lead vocal on this song is spot on. This would also make a great radio choice. 9/10
- Over For Good – The disc concludes with this song from the songwriting combo of Marcy Each, Karen Gillespie, and Kimberly Walling Ford. The soulful sound comes back on this tune that features Dustin Doyle. Once again, while the vocals are very much soul influenced with pop stylings, the track is fairly standard fare for SG listeners. Doyle does a great job on this song that concludes the CD with a great performance. 9/10
Overall: 9 There may not be a huge, knock your socks off song on this album, but there also isn’t one that will have you reaching for the skip button. Beyond The Ashes has really found their niche on the pop/R&B progressive end of the Southern Gospel spectrum, and the addition of Dustin Doyle has solidified their spot. Mark it down, Dustin Doyle will be recognized as one of the genre’s top lead vocalists, and sooner rather than later. Anthony Facello has developed a nice strong, full tone with a lot of soul in the tenor spot, Doyle is a star in the making, and Monroe has one of the most unique baritone voices in SG music. These three guys are all outstanding vocalists, and producer Wayne Haun really brought out the best in them on this album. While there may not be the one great song on this disc, it’s chock full of very good songs, the performances are exquisite, the arrangements well done, and this is one of the strongest CDs I’ve had the opportunity to review in quite a while. Don’t miss out on this CD, it is a job well done!