REVIEW: The Nelons – Beautiful

Nelons – Beautiful

Producer:  Jason Clark

Label:  Daywind Music Group


Rating:  5 Stars

I grew up on the music of the Nelons (they were known as the Rex Nelon Singers back in their early days) and their music is a big part of the soundtrack of my youth, and their music continues to be a part of me to this day.  In fact, this year the Nelons celebrate 46 years as a group, a beautiful legacy that began in the heart of Kelly’s dad, Rex Nelon.  How appropriate (for me) that this latest recording comes out as I am getting ready to wrap up a series here on Absolutely Gospel, in conjunction with my music page ( where I have been reviewing each of their recordings from 1977-1998.  The current group, Jason, Kelly, Amber and Autumn, have continued to consistently release outstanding, innovative and relevant music that is enjoyed by people from all walks of life.  “Beautiful” continues that tradition with soaring harmonies, unique arrangements and unexpected twists and turns, proving that after 46 years, they are still innovators and amazing musical creators.

The recording starts off with the upbeat title song, “BEAUTIFUL”, which was written by Jason Clark along with Kenna West and Don Poythress.  The only new song on the recording, I love the message the song conveys, before the tempo slows down for the dramatic feel of the Bill and Gloria Gaither penned, “ALL THE GLORY BELONGS TO JESUS”.  Originally recorded by the Gaither Vocal Band 35 years ago, as well as by the Cathedral Quartet on their “I’ve Just Started Living” album, the Nelons put their own spin on the song, and it really shows off their impeccable harmonies with this mesmerizing arrangement.

The following 3 songs are unique covers of recent popular songs from the CCM/Worship genres…on the first tune, the group turns in a masterful performance on the Mandisa tune, “GOD IS SPEAKING”, before the pace picks up for the CAIN hit, “RISE UP”.  One of my personal favorite songs is the massively popular tune, “THE GOODNESS OF GOD”, and Autumn and Amber do a phenomenal job singing this song.  They have been staging the song for a couple of years now, and I am so glad they included it on this recording.

In celebration of the 40th anniversary of the 1983 Nelon classic, “O FOR A THOUSAND TONGUES”, they recorded an updated arrangement, which features orchestrations arranged by the late Lari Goss.  This “Song of the Year” (1984) for the Nelons is the crowning jewel of the recording, before the tempo gets ramped up for the Albert E. Brumley tune, “I’LL PUT ON A CROWN”.  Giving this classic song a complete musical overhaul, this rockabilly arrangement featuring cool electric guitar and piano embellishments, is a highlight of the recording and is such a fun listen.

One of my favorite Gaither penned tunes is “HEAR THE VOICE OF MY BELOVED”.  Written by Bill and Gloria, along with Ron Griffin, the song is a beautiful love song between the Lord and His children, as the song references His love for us and as a response, our love for Him.  I first fell in love with this song 38 years ago when I heard Lulu Roman’s version from her 1985 album, “Take Me There”, then again on Cynthia Clawson’s 1994 recording, “River of Memories”, and then fell in love with it all over again when the Isaacs recorded it on their 2009 recording, “Naturally”.  With its acoustic track featuring guitar, dobro, mandolin and fiddle accents, the Nelons’ version doesn’t really offer anything new musically with the song, but it’s still a gorgeous song that is beautifully done by the group and is a highlight of the recording.   

“Beautiful” closes out with the Rusty Goodman classic, “LOOK FOR ME”, which features both Jason and Kelly.  The group does a phenomenal job on the song and it’s a beautiful way to close out the recording.  I’d actually love to see them release this song to radio…it’s been 41 years since the Goodmans recorded it and made it a hit, and who better to re-introduce it to a whole new audience than the Nelons, especially with such a classy and elegant cut of the song!

When I heard the group was releasing a new album, I had assumed “Scars in Heaven”, which the group enjoyed chart success with (and was nominated for “Song of the Year” in the Singing News Fan Awards for this year, as well as nominated for  “Progressive Single of the Year” in the Absolutely Gospel Awards, and won “Video of the Year” in the Absolutely Gospel Awards), would have been included on this recording, but it was not.  I was a bit disappointed, but I know that I am old school, and I am still getting used to the way things are done in this digital world, and unfortunately, not everything is going to make it onto a new recording like it used to.  Nonetheless, this was a beautiful piece of work by the Nelons, as they put their own creative stamp on several classic Southern Gospel songs and popular current contemporary and worship tunes.  While “Beautiful” doesn’t have quite the variety and multi-textured songs like their “Peace at Last” recording did, it’s still a magnificent recording that has a cohesive sound and a beautiful blend of songs that seemed to be meant for each other!

Personal favorites from this recording include “Beautiful”, “All the Glory Belongs to Jesus”, “Goodness of God”, “I’ll Put on a Crown”, “Hear the Voice of My Beloved” and “Look for Me”.

James Hales

James Hales, from Durham, North Carolina, has been a writer for since 2000. James is our featured reviewer and also contributes to monthly features periodically.
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