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REVIEW: Ivan Parker – Feels Like Home

Producer: Garry Jones
Record Label: Difference Media
Website: www.ivanparker.com

When I set down to listen to a CD, if I know I am going to be asked my opinion of it or to write a review, I look for several things. Song selection, are they remakes or brand new, does the project have a central theme and does the song selection keep with that theme and then of course quality of the song arrangements and vocals. I knew when I saw Garry Jones was the producer the arrangements were going to be good. The songs selected for this project go along with the title and after listening to it from start to finish a couple of times, it definitely holds to the theme.

The project is packed full of big arrangements; rife with horns and strings and “big band” style, that don’t overpower the message of the song and the vocals are snuggled in nice and tight in each track. The project pays homage to Ivan’s mama, who recently entered an assisted living facility, the song selection takes Ivan back to the 70’s and his early days of wanting to be a gospel singer.

We’re introduced to the project with a jazzy arrangement of the Bill and Gloria Gaither hit, Feeling at Home with Jesus. The second track I was both surprised to see on the list and I have to admit a bit wary of. I actually almost skipped over it because I was certain it would disappoint. I have never cared for the song or maybe the way the song has always been performed. I relented and decided to listen; in order of giving an honest review of the project. Instead of the whiny steel guitar and twangy country sound we are typically given, a beautiful arrangement of strings began to play on Kris Kristofferson’s song, Why Me Lord. As I listened to this version, I found myself hearing a heartfelt message in the words. The up-tempo, I’ll Have a New Song, you’ll find yourself tapping your foot and singing right along with it. I Just Came to Talk to You Lord slows the project down a bit. In my opinion, it’s a welcomed break to the mix and settles you down to reflect on the words and the message.

Dig a Little Deeper, picks up the jazzy sound again and Dallas Holm’s His Hand in Mine, done as a Michael Bublé, crooner style was a pleasant surprise and a nice touch, kudos to Ivan and Garry on this arrangement! It complements the song very well and reminds us of our relationship with the Lord.

I’m the Lamb” is a traditional gospel arrangement, spiced up with some slick guitar and piano riffs and Ivan delivers it with plenty of heart, one of my favorites from the project. Dottie Rambo’s The Holy Hills of Heaven Call Me” has always been one of my favorites and this updated-country version ranks right up there and is another favorite of this writer.

The project wraps up with some oldies and goodies, You and Me Jesus, another Dallas Holm favorite, is another one of those “gotta sing along” songs with its upbeat, jazzy tempo. The Colbert Croft song I Can’t Even Walk Without You Holding My Hand is another surprise. Ivan got away from the typical blues style on this one and made it his own. Lastly, Andre Crouch would be pleased with Ivan’s version of Through It All.

Feels Like Home is a great project in my humble opinion. One I have truly enjoyed listening to and reviewing. You can tell a great deal of thought and prayer went into song selection, arranging and performance and in the end that’s what makes a great project. This project has brought back a lot of very dear memories, some that I haven’t thought about in years. This will definitely find a place in my collection as one I will listen to over and over again.

Jeff Lowe
Staff Writer/Reviewer
Jeff Lowe, from Massillon, Ohio, I love southern gospel music and have been involved in it in one way or another for 40+ years. I first started singing bass in The Soulseeker's as a young teen. I started the Master's Quartet in 1996. In 2009, I started Mercy River Quartet and ten years later we are still serving and praising the Lord. I love serving with Mercy River. He has blessed us greatly and we count it a privilege to be able to serve Him and present the gospel in song. I'm excited to back with AbsolutelyGospel.com and am looking forward to being here for a very long time!

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