Producer: Wayne Haun
Record Label: StowTown Records
Through the years, Southern Gospel music has embraced a variety of groups & singers. The Guardians burst on the national scene with their 2014 release, Let My Heart Sing. Comprised of Dean Hickman (tenor), John Darin Rowsey (lead), and Neal Uhrig (baritone), the Guardians introduced hits like “Somebody Prays,” “My Hope Is in the Lord,” and “Shoutin’ Sounds” to a brand-new audience. Since late 2016, the Guardians joined forces with StowTown Records to produce their first label release, Lift Him Up.
From the start, the Guardians treat the listener to a solid a cappella performance of the tune, “Alleluia.” While the group sticks to the original arrangement, this works to set up the project’s theme, Lift Him Up. The pace kicks into high gear with the first single, “Packin’ Up.” Several years back, Gold City recorded the old Luther Presley tune, “Getting Ready to Leave This World,” and they included the chorus from “Packin’ Up.” The Guardians do the opposite and give fans the full version of “Packin’ Up.” The high energy is perfect for the concert and radio settings. By following a solemn opener with a big, bold arrangement of two uptempo tunes, the Guardians givea the listener a chance to see the pacing on Lift Him Up.
As the project continues to build momentum, the Guardians offer listeners a variety of ballads ranging from big ballad status (“Another Life to Give” and “What a Day That Will Be Medley”) to more mellow ballads (“Keeper of the Lost and Found” and “Present in the Presence of the King”). As mentioned before, the group carefully places each song with a break in the tempo for a comfortable listen. Out of these ballads, “Another Life to Give” and “Present in the Presence of the King” stand out as clear radio potential. Dean Hickman and John Darin Rowsey give stirring performances for the listener to ponder.
Throughout Lift Him Up, the Guardians make a clear effort to offer a variety of arrangements that keep the listener (for the most part) engaged. However, some moments tend to pale in comparison to the stronger moments on the project. The three-song block of “His Truth Keeps Marching On,” “What a Day That Will Be/Heaven Will Surely Be Worth It All/We Shall Behold Him,” and “Leaning” do not stand sufficiently on their own.
However, through Lift Him Up, the Guardians transition from song to song to give the project its added flavor to change the routine. One particular moment is the high-energy appeal of “Woke Up This Morning” and the solemn “Theme from a Summer Place,” which show their strong ability to shift styles & messages in the matter of seconds. The near “shock” factor of this pacing style sets them apart from many of the groups traveling today.
Although the Guardians are relatively new to the national scene, the group’s individual years of experience show in how strong Lift Him Up truly is. Southern Gospel is just now tapping into the wealth of experience the Guardians have to offer, and Lift Him Up proves the Guardians well.
Packin’ Up **
Another Life to Give **
His Truth Keeps Marching On
What a Day That Will Be/Heaven Will Surely Be Worth It All/We Shall Behold Him
Keeper of the Lost and Found **
There Is a Love
Hold On to the Power of the Cross **
Woke Up This Morning **
Theme from a Summer’s Place **
Present in the Presence of the King **
Please Don’t Wait Forever **