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Vinyl Record Review: The Paynes – Storms / Made New (1996/1999)

The Paynes – Storms / Made New (1996/1999)

After spending a few years traveling as a soloist, the Paynes were “reborn”.  During Mike’s time as a soloist, Loreen and their daughter, Sandra traveled often with him and they would also perform together as well, so it wasn’t a far-fetched idea to re-invent the Paynes as a family trio with the three of them.  Stylistically, this incarnation of the group was very different from the original group.  While Mike was the main singer in the original group, over the last few years, Sandra, was coming into her own as an amazing singer herself, and was a dynamic vocalist and a true stylist, just like her dad!

In 1996, the group signed with Daywind Records, and their first recording, “Storms”, was produced by Mike’s brother, Keith Payne along with producer extraordinaire, Wayne Haun.  Mark Payne also assisted with the cover work, continuing the tradition of unique and creative cover art!

One unique connection with the Paynes and Daywind Records is that Windchime Records was basically a forerunner (of sorts) for Daywind.  Dottie Leonard-Miller is the founder, president, and CEO of Daywind Music Group.  She originally started working for Calvary Records in the late 70’s, and eventually moved to Windchime when that label was launched in 1980.  In 1981, she launched New Day Christian Distributors and in 1986, her and former Windchime executive, Ronald Drake, formed Daywind Music Group, which has become one of gospel music’s most successful record companies, which still maintains a hefty artist roster today including the Nelons, Greater Vision, Joseph Habedank, Brian Free & Assurance, Guardians Quartet, Karen Peck & New River and SouthBound.

For this new recording, 7 songs were written by Mike along with Ray Davis and Wayne Haun, with the remainder of the songs written either by just Mike, or along with Loreen.  In some ways, “Storms” recalls their Windchime days as most songs feature background vocals and several songs have that classic Paynes touch such as “The Devil Can’t Stand the Sight of Blood”, “What a Way to Spend Forever” (the Freemans recorded this song on their 1997 recording, “Standing Out”), “Still Standing After the Storm” (one of my favorite Loreen features and also charted briefly in 1998), “I Can’t Lose for Winning” (which Amy Lambert recorded on her “Mountains of Mercy” recording that was released in 1999) and “Don’t Just Stand There (Pray Something)”.

The big chart song for this recording was the country feel of “Long Time Comin’ (Long Time Gone)”, which also had that signature Payne sound, and is my favorite from the recording.  The song charted for several months in 1997, peaking at #14 in June 1997.  I related so personally to this song, as the first verse makes me think of my maternal grandpa, who was a lay preacher that long preached that Jesus was coming soon.

There are also a couple of songs that feature Sandra singing some big solo performances on the songs “Heart Healer” and “He Forgives and Forgets”.  Both songs eventually made their way to her first, self-titled solo recording that was released in 1997 on Whitefield Music (a subsidiary of Daywind Records).  There is also a duet she sings with Mike on the soulful, Christmas themed song, “Who’s That in the Manger There?”.  Backed by a choir, the song has all the black gospel feels you can muster and is a highlight of the recording.

The recording closes out with the testimonial, “Can I Get a Witness?” which feature both Mike and Sandra.  As the song ends and under a bed of music in the background, there are some dynamic and powerful testimonies by individuals who saw the hand of God move in their lives.  It’s a unique song to close out the recording, and in fact, the song charted briefly in the Top 40 in early 1999 for the Paynes.

3 years after “Storms” came out, the group released another studio recording titled, “Made New”, which was also released on Daywind Records in 1999.  Produced by Wayne Haun, the recording featured half new songs, all written by Mike along with Wayne Haun and Ray Davis, and half remakes of classic Payne songs.  While “Storms” had a more soulful vibe to it, “Made New” definitely leaned more towards a Southern Gospel feel, but still offered some uniquely progressive sounds.  The remakes were a good mix between sticking close to the original arrangements and thinking outside of the box for some fresh takes on those classic tunes.  The new tunes fit in perfectly with those classic tunes and I felt all the songs fit extremely well together, creating one outstanding recording.

“Out of This World” and “Angels Step Back” pretty much stick close to the original arrangements, with a few enhancements which added to the overall musicality of the songs.  However, for “Who But God?” and “When He Was on the Cross” (both songs were co-written by Mike and Ronny Hinson), they upped the ante, and pretty much reinvented the songs. “Who But God?” was given a fun, jazzed up arrangement with a nice Pentecostal shuffle and Mike and Sandra playfully deliver the goods as they perform the song as a duet.  For “When He Was on the Cross”, the song is performed by Sandra as a solo, backed by a choir, and was transformed to almost a jazz infused ballad filled with piano, organ, and orchestral flourishes throughout the song.  The final re-make is the crowing jewel of the recording, where the song is given the royal treatment with a lot of brass and strings and features Tim Riley of Gold City playing the part of Satan, which was a perfect choice!  It’s an amazing and exciting performance and I wish they had released it to radio.

As I stated earlier, Mike co-wrote all 5 new songs with Ray Davis and Wayne Haun.  The recording kicks off with, “Signed, Sealed, Delivered”, which features an excellent performance by Sandra.  Gold City recorded this for their 1999 recording, “Signed, Sealed, Delivered”, which was released on Daywind Records.  The first single release from the recording was the powerful testimonial, “Prayer Still Changes Things”, which featured Loreen and Sandra, as well as a dynamic and massive orchestral track, which was something very different for the Paynes.  Though the song wasn’t a huge hit for the group, it did chart in the Top 40 for a couple of months.  The up-tempo, “They’ve Got a Place for People Like Me” was perfect for Mike and is a highlight of the recording, as is Loreen’s emotional and delicate performance on the moving, “He’ll See Me Home”.  The final new song, “Back Where I Belong” closes out the recording.  The song has that classic “Payne Country” feel to it and was an excellent song to round out the recording with a more low-key type of song.

This incarnation of the Paynes would only record 2 studio recordings.  Sandra would release her first major solo recording, “Sandra Payne” in 1997, and then would subsequently release her sophomore recording titled, “That Voice” in 2000, which was a monumental and completely out of the box recording for our genre.  Both recordings featured such amazing tunes like “All Praise Rising”, “I Still Believe in the Church”, “Just Say Jesus”, “When Sparrows Fall” and “That Voice”.

The Paynes would release one final recording that was released in 2001, which was a live reunion of the group, recorded at Dayton Memorial Hall in Dayton, Ohio in November 2000.  In our final article on the Paynes, we’ll walk through that amazing evening filled with lots of emotion, memories and fantastic songs that were a part of the Payne legacy.

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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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