Producer: Wayne Haun and John Darin Rowsey
Label: StowTown Records
Having previously been a trio, with the wonderful addition of bass singer, Pat Barker, the group has officially become quartet and this latest release showcases the groups’ new configuration. Along with Barker, the group consists of tenor, Dean Hickman, John Darin Rowsey on lead and Neil Uhrig rounding out the baritone part. This recording is definitely one of the best releases of 2018 and features some killer songs and arrangements. Hat tip to Wayne Haun and John Darin Rowsey for a job well done as Producers!
With a dramatic orchestral flourish and choral opening with, “Hallelujah, Thine the Glory, Hallelujah, amen…revive us again” we are ushered into a spirit of revival as the Guardians declare they are “READY FOR REVIVAL”. This up-tempo tune sets the stage for a power-packed recording.
The tempo slows down a bit as Dean Hickman sings the worshipful, “UNCOMMON PRAISE” before the tempo gets kicked back into high gear with the infectious, hard driving “GOD FIGHTS ON MY SIDE”, featuring Pat Barker. Barker does a superb job on this one and it’s one my personal favorites and I think it would do very at radio.
John Darin Rowsey steps up to sing the heartfelt, “HE LOVES”. This wonderful lyric reminds us that…“He knows, He cares, He sees, He’s there, no matter what goes wrong, I know I’m not alone…He hears, He moves, there’s nothing that my Father wouldn’t do, to prove to you and me how much He loves”. I hope to see this song hit radio before it’s all said and done.
The big band feel of “JUST GETTING STARTED” is a fun tune that should do well in a concert setting before the mood turns to a more serious tone with the timely, “WHEN AMERICA FALLS”. With its patriotic theme, it’s sure to be a fan favorite for the group.
“TURN AROUND AND LOOK AT ME” keeps things in a slow mode with its retro big band feel before the tempo gets kicked back up with the hard driving, “NAME ABOVE ALL NAMES”.
Anyone who has followed Pat Barker’s career, knows “HOW BIG IS GOD” is his signature song, so it’s appropriate to include it here, coupled with the Praise and Worship classic, “HOW GREAT IS OUR GOD” and the hymn, “HOW GREAT THOU ART”. The medley is one of the pinnacle moments on this recording.
With its happy piano intro, the tempo gets kicked back up with a reminder of “WHAT THE CHURCH IS DOING RIGHT”, which features Neil Uhrig.
“HE’S BLESSING ME” is an enjoyable number before the tempo slows back down for the closing song, “YOU CAN DEPEND ON JESUS”, a tremendous song of comfort.
One smart thing they did with this recording was have several songs feature Pat Barker. It’s easy to pigeonhole a singer into one type of song, but there are 5 songs that feature Barker either as a solo or with major step-out lines and each song has its own personality. Since this is his first recording with the group, it’s appropriate to give him so many features, and they’re all splendid selections. As a matter of fact, the song selection is superb throughout the entire recording and the arrangements and production quality are classy and very well done. The recording has a massive sound, almost epic-like and as I stated at the beginning, one of the best releases for 2018!
(stars denote personal favorites)
Ready for Revival**
God Fights on my Side**
Just Getting Started**
When America Falls
Turn Around and Look at Me
Name Above All Names**
How Big is God Medley**
What the Church is Doing Right
He’s Blessing Me
You Can Depend on Jesus