Producer: Gordon Mote
Record Label: Gaither Music Group
The Martins took the Southern Gospel world by storm in 1992 when Bill Gaither took the young trio under his wings and made them a part of his then ground breaking Homecoming videos and concert series. The group struck Southern Gospel gold with their impressive family-rooted harmonies and down-home personalities. Songs like “Out of His Great Love,” “Wherever You Are,” and “Grace” became staples on Gospel music radio.
In 1998, the group released Dream Big which found the siblings gaining new audiences across Inspirational and Adult Contemporary Christian radio with a very progressive sound, but still rooted in the country and Southern sounds the group was known for. Subsequent releases have found the group walking the line between the more uber-progressive sounds from the late 90s and early 00s to the more country based sounds of their early years.
Still Standing keeps the tradition strong with another batch of eloquently written tunes that feature striking vocal arrangements and memorable solos from the siblings three. Pianist extraordinaire Gordon Mote’s ear for arrangements and vocal harmonies make for solid production work, and probably the best the group has had since the mid-90s when Michael English and Michael Sykes were at the center of all the group’s recordings.
The album kicks off with “Running,” and energetic upbeat country tune written by Natalie Cromwell, Val Dacus, and Dean Newkirk that should be a crowd-pleaser in concerts. The mid-tempo “Beautiful” features Joyce Martin Sander’s bluesy vocals and comes from the pen of Sanders, Kenna West, and Don Poythress. “Good” is another mid-tempo tune that is a stand out track from the group. Jonathan’s vocals have to be the best they’ve been in his near 30 year career in this genre. The group does this Dave Barnes cover justice, for sure.
“Mercy Come In” is a modern-hymn (and written by the industry’s top hymn writers Laura Story, Travis Cottrell, and David Moffitt) that features a stellar vocal performance from Judy Martin Hess. This would be an excellent choice for a single at some point down the road.
The strongest cuts on this release are easily on the back half, starting with the bluesy “Smell the Smoke.” This song features one of the more memorable melodies to come out of the genre in years, much in part to the incredible writing talents of Kenna West, Amber Eppinette, and Jason Cox. I’d love to hear this hit radio waves, but unfortunately the song might be too progressive for radio programmers’ tastes. The group’s cover of Point of Grace’s “Heal the Wound” is a beautiful take on an already impressive lyric, while “Still Standing” (the group’s third take on the hymn “Standing On the Promises”) is perhaps the best song on the recording. Sanders’ vocals get better with every recording, and this just solidifies her as the industry’s leading interpreter of lyric. (Notably, this song was also written by the aforementioned Sanders, West, and Poythress.)
The recording is closed with a modern take on the group’s hit song “Wherever You Are.” While this is a fine remake, I’m not sure it was entirely needed at this point the group’s illustrious career.
Overall, Still Standing definitely stands head and shoulders above most of the releases to come out of the industry this year. The Martins continue to choose stellar songs and sing them like no one else. If you haven’t purchased a release from this group in the past, Still Standing would be a welcome introduction to a group with an already storied career.
Mercy Come In
Days Like This
Smell of Smoke
Heal the Wound
Wherever You Are