REVIEW: Johnny Minick & the Stewart Brothers – Sagebrush Symphony

Producer: Johnny Minick
Record Label: .45 Caliber Records/Main Street Music

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On the heels of their successful self-titled debut, Johnny Minick and the Stewart Brothers offer listeners a new album of Western style with Sagebrush Symphony. Harkening back to the sounds of Texas swing-style music, the trio delivers great favorites mixed with lush orchestrations. Although a slight departure from Minick’s Gospel roots, Sagebrush Symphony continues what will (hopefully) be a notable blend and style long-forgotten.

As noted, there are two key players in the success of Sagebrush Symphony – the blend & orchestrations. First, the blend. The Stewart Brothers have such a sweet blend to accompany Minick’s baritone range. However, the trio doesn’t rely on Minick for the lead vocal. “Faded Love” shows the trio’s blend continue with an excellent feature from Lonnie Stewart. His smooth tenor vocal rounds the blend well, yet this also stands out in features.

Second, in terms of major players, is the orchestrations. While many artists in Southern Gospel rely on heavy orchestra arrangements and  some may question their necessity, Johnny Minick & the Stewart Brothers use the orchestrations to their advantage to enhance their swing style of music. Tunes like “Love Me Tender” and “The Wayward Wind” demonstrate both the well-arranged orchestrations to complement the lyrics. As “Love Me Tender” renders the typical swing style, “”The Wayward Wind” is more energetic. In either song, listeners are treated to skilled arrangements with tasteful, not overpowering, orchestrations.

Although many know Johnny Minick as a former pastor and Gospel singer, Sagebrush Symphony gives listeners another chance to hear him with a sound/style not quite close to either role of pastor or Gospel singer. Joined by Lonnie Stewart and Phil Stewart, Johnny Minick gives listeners a taste of good quality lyrics in high-quality arrangements. While some tunes sound similar toward the end of the recording, Johnny and the Stewart Brothers keep the variety going with their unique blend, backed with a well-arranged musical backdrop. In these moments, the trio offers listeners a fresh taste of a time-honored style with quality and class.

Track Listing:

The Wayward Wind
San Antonio Rose
Tumbling Tumbleweeds
Red River Valley
Love Me Tender
True Love
Home On The Range
Faded Love
Big Iron


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Andrew Stephens

Andrew hails from Anderson, SC and has lived here all 25 years of his life. As a child, he attended concerts in the area and instantly became hooked on the concept of Southern Gospel music. His music collection has expanded to over 1,000 artist recordings as well as several compilations (including record label & radio promotions comps). For a couple of years or so, Andrew hosted a blog, "Southern Gospel Review", and did articles ranging from specialty (Hits of the Past), album reviews (CD, DVD, & Vinyl), and other interesting tidbits (recording oddities, etc.).
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