REVIEW: Billy Blackwood and Friends – From the Heart

Producer:  Tim Parton & E.T. Everett
Label:  Daywind Music

[yasr_overall_rating size=”medium”]

Blackwood is a name synonymous with gospel music and is the epitome of all things legendary.  Billy started back in the late 60s as drummer for JD Sumner & The Stamps before moving to play drums for the Blackwood Brothers.  By the mid-70s, he was playing drums for the Orrells/Gordon Jensen & Sunrise.  Fast forward to the late 2000’s, and he’s traded drum sticks for a microphone to sing baritone with the Blackwood Brothers and the group has enjoyed good success for the last 10+ years.  Here, with a lifetime of experiences to pull from, Billy releases a solo recording filled with songs sung straight from his heart.  While the recording may be billed “and Friends”, there’s only 4 songs where Billy is joined by other capable singers, with the rest of the songs being performed solo.

The recording starts off with the classic, “PEOPLE NEED THE LORD”.  My personal favorite from this recording, this is one of the most dynamic songs ever written with a distinct “call to action” for the church.  Billy does a tremendous job interpreting this masterpiece before moving on to the Stuart Hamblin masterpiece, “IT IS NO SECRET”.

With only piano accompaniment, Billy sings the classic hymn, “IN THE GARDEN”, where he is joined by vocalist, Yvonne Lewis-Shelton and it’s a highlight of the recording, before moving on to the Mylon LeFevre classic, “WITHOUT HIM”.

Kelly Willard joins Billy on her own classic tune, “WILLING HEART” before Billy turns in an excellent performance on the George Beverly Shea classic, “I’D RATHER HAVE JESUS”.

Songwriter, Dave Clark joins Billy on his own composition, “A STRANGE WAY TO SAVE THE WORLD” before Billy covers one of my favorite Phillips, Craig and Dean tunes, “YOUR GRACE STILL AMAZES ME”.

Billy is joined by Gene McDonald on “LOVE HELD JESUS TO THE CROSS”, which was written by Billy several years ago, reminding us that it wasn’t the nails that held Jesus to the cross, it was the love He had for all mankind.

Recalling Billy’s days when he played drums for Gordon Jensen & Sunrise, “IF PEOPLE”, penned by Gordon Jensen, was an excellent inclusion on this recording before closing things out with the wonderful reminder that, “YOU’RE IN GOOD HANDS”, which was written by Lanny Wolfe.

To some people, the recording may drag due to all the slower paced songs, but it’s an ‘easy on the ears, heavy on the heart’ type of recording.  The recording is mostly covers, hymns and classic songs, and while no mention of musicians are listed and the fact that the music tracks have some slight variances in their quality, my hunch is the tracks are pre-recorded tracks (presumably from Daywind); but Billy does a great job presenting his rendition of these tunes.  He’s a different type of singer than his dad, James Blackwood, but Billy has a certain genuine quality in his voice that draws the listener in and causes you to say, “I believe you!”.  Aptly titled “From the Heart”, I believe these songs show us Billy’s heart in a real and genuine way.

Track Listing:
(stars denote personal favorites)

People Need the Lord**
It Is No Secret
In the Garden**
Without Him
Willing Heart
I’d Rather Have Jesus**
A Strange Way to Save the World**
Your Grace Still Amazes Me**
Love Held Jesus to the Cross
If People
You’re in Good Hands

James Hales

James Hales, from Durham, North Carolina, has been a writer for since 2000. James is our featured reviewer and also contributes to monthly features periodically.
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