Producer: Les Butler
Record Label: Real Southern Gospel Records
Some may say that the classic Southern Gospel sound is a dying art, but I believe it is still very much alive and well! Les Butler has put together an amazing group of men who all came from different groups and created a wonderful recording, proving that the classic sound is still alive! Consisting of former Kingsmen, Dove Brothers and Kingdom Heirs tenor, Jerry Martin, along with Tim Maze of Canaan’s Crossing singing lead, Terry Carter (former Anchormen baritone, currently singing with Port City Quartet) on baritone and bass, Darin Hebert (of the Williamsons), and they sound like they had been singing together for years! For many people, THIS is REAL Southern Gospel Music, and they couldn’t have recorded a better album!
The recording starts off with the convention feel of “BLESSED HEAVEN’S JUBILEE”. Starting with just piano accompaniment, drums kick in for the second verse and it’s a great introduction to what the Real Southern Gospel Quartet is all about! Though this is a new song, it sounds reminiscent to one of my all-time favorite convention songs, “What a Meeting”.
The tempo gets kicked into high gear with the HeavenBound classic, “A DIFFERENT WAY”, which features Tim. The current single for the group, it’s Southern Gospel to the core and they did a great job covering this Jeff Gibson penned classic and making the song their own with some tweaks to the original arrangement.
Tim steps up once again as he sings the medium tempo, “HERE I’LL STAND” before fiddles and banjos kick in for the up-tempo, “GIDEON’S GOD”, which features Jerry. Written by Rebecca Peck and the late Dianne Wilkinson, it’s a highlight of the recording as it reminds us that “Gideon’s God is my God” and that the same God who delivered Gideon’s army as well as Sampson and Joshua is the same God we serve today, and He always provides a way for His children!
The campmeeting feel comes through loud and clear on the Ila Knight penned, “WHEN THE LORD SAVED ME”. Featuring some nice bass singing by Darin, the song also features step out lines from Jerry, Tim and Terry as well and it’s a fun song to listen to and is a highlight of the recording.
Written 40+ years ago by Kyla Rowland, “ENERGY CRISIS” is just as relevant today as it was when the Kingsmen originally recorded it in 1980. Featuring Darin, I love the refresh given to the song and it’s one of my personal favorites from the recording before Jerry steps back up to sing the medium tempo, “BLESSED ASSURANCE IN THE BLOOD”.
Written by Roger Horne and recorded in 1972 by the Cathedrals, the guys turn in an excellent performance on the song of anticipation of the Lord’s second coming entitled, “HE’LL SOON BE HERE”, before Terry steps up to sing the testimony song, “WHAT A JOURNEY”.
Featuring steel guitar and fiddle accents, the country feel of the up-tempo, “PUT SOMETHING BACK” is a nice inclusion for this recording. Written by the late Aaron Wilburn and Joe Huffman, the song was previously recorded back in the early 80s by the Mercy River Boys and Dixie Melody Boys, and Darin does a really great job on the song.
The recording concludes with probably the most unique song on the recording, “CHOOSING BARABBAS”, which features Jerry. Written by Rebecca Peck, it’s a very dramatic tune featuring a very timely and poignant lyric…”if you go with the crowd doing what they do, and let lack of conviction get the better of you…instead of Jesus, you’ll be choosing Barabbas”. It’s a very different way to close out the recording, but it’s an almost impossible song to follow with its heavy, lingering message.
One thing I appreciate with this recording is they didn’t rehash a bunch of classic Southern Gospel tunes, which I don’t have a problem with as I love hearing them if they are done right. While there are a few cover tunes, there are a lot of newly crafted songs on here that proves that the classic Southern Gospel sound is still alive and well! This is a very well-done recording and these guys, though they are from different groups and backgrounds, came together and put together a wonderfully cohesive recording that is highly enjoyable to listen to, and one of my absolute favorite releases for 2022!