Down East Boys CD Review

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The Down East Boys new project entitled Ransomed, was released March 18, 2016 through Springside Marketing.

Album Highlights:

The project kicks off with a song titled A Reason To Sing and this tune features lead singer Ricky Carden. This is an update number with a traditional quartet feel and good harmonies. The song describes how as a Christian, we have a reason to sing and be happy.

Somebody Left The Door Wide Open is another feature for  lead singer Ricky Carden. This is a upbeat, soulful tune with a choir backup. This one will have you tapping your feet and singing along.

I Still Remember is a mid-tempo number that features classic quartet harmony. This is a catchy tune that’s  radio ready.

The Song Of The Ransomed features lead singer Ricky Carden and is an emotionally charged, moving ballad. Excellent harmonies, full orchestration and a choir for backup make this a sure bet to be a radio single. This one may be the best cut from the album.

A Thieves Paradise features tenor Steve Lixey.  This is a soft, simple ballad that showcases just Lixey’s voice on the tune. It is a standout number on the project.

Now A Witness I Am is another solid upbeat traditional quartet style tune that fans will enjoy. It has close harmonies and really has a radio ready sound overall.

The Cross Speaks Louder is a ballad thats a baritone feature for Daryl Paschal. This is another really moving ballad that showcases nice harmonies.

Overall, this is a solid effort from the Down East Boys and there’s certainly no shortage of radio single tunes to choose from. Fans of traditional quartet style music will want to pick this one up!

Song List:

A Reason To Sing
Somebody Left The Door Wide Open
I Still Remember
The Song Of The Ransomed
That’s What You Get For Loving Him
A Thieves’ Paradise
One Way One Name One Door
That Wonderful Land
The Cross Speaks Louder
Now A Witness Am I
Pray

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

For more information on the Down East Boys:

Down East Boys Website

The Steeles CD Review

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The Steeles are a Tennessee-based Southern gospel group. Husband and wife, Jeff and Sherry Steele, make up the core of the trio. Jeff, a former pastor, has been the group’s leader and songwriting voice throughout its existence. The group has had success charting especially with their hit song from 1996 We Want America Back.  Jeff was named BMI’s Southern Gospel Songwriter of the Year in 1995 and 1996. The latest offering from the group is titled Without A Sound and was released in December 2015.

Album Highlights:

Without A Sound was the initial radio release. The song currently sits in the top 30 of a couple of charts. Jeff takes the lead on this ballad. Typical of a Jeff Steele penned ballad, this song has emotional lyrics that culminates in a solid chorus. The song describes “we are not going down without a sound“. It talks about our responsibilities as Christians to stand up and proclaim the gospel truth.  This is radio polished song with tight harmonies and a solid message.

We’re All Human features Sherry on lead. This is another worship style ballad that the Steeles are known for. The song describes all of us are human and broken and we all need grace.

Who’s At The Door is an upbeat tune that’s a little more country flavored and quiet catchy. This radio ready tune talks about the resurrected savior taking the keys of death and the grave. This one features Jeff and is a tune you cant help but sing along with.

Say So is another country infused upbeat number that features Jeff. The song talks about speaking up and testifying when we’ve been saved.

He Went All The Way is an emotionally charged ballad that features Sherry. This one talks about Jesus dying on the cross for our sins. This is another radio polished ballad that should do well. It has the emotional lyrics that the Steeles are known for.

Over all this is a solid project. It leans to the ballads a little more than a typical balanced project, but ballads are what the Steeles have built their reputation on.

The project can be previewed on the MCM website below.The Steeles Facebook Page

This project is definitely a good choice to add to your southern gospel collection.

Album Rating:  4 out of 5 stars

The Florida Boys CD Review

Since 1947, fans have flocked to see The Florida Boys. They appeared on the first gospel quartet concert ever held in New York’s Carnegie Hall. To perform at Carnegie Hall is recognized as the zenith of one’s career. With No. 1 hits like “Standing On The Solid Rock”, “When He Was On The Cross, I Was On His Mind”, “Lead Me To The Altar” and “I Lean On You Lord”, this legendary group has recorded over 100 albums and attained a following of devoted listeners, including the late Elvis Presley.

The latest two offerings from the legendary group was released this year.

1). Time Out:

This project is a tribute to great songs of the past from not only the Florida Boys but from the Blackwood Brothers, Chuck Wagon Gang and the Cathedral Quartet.

Album Highlights:

Interestingly, the album starts off with a ballad which is unusual in any genre release. I Know A Man  Who Can features new tenor singer Nathan Parrish.  This is an excellent arrangement and Parrish delivers good vocals to complement the solid instrumentation.

I’d Rather Have Jesus is the Chuck Wagon Gang version of the song. This is another fine arrangement with quality vocals and tight harmonies.

Then I Met Jesus is an interesting tune that I could only find on a live performance by the Florida Boys decades ago. This one features newcomer Jimmy Reno on baritone and he does not disappoint. Smooth vocals and a nice higher end on his range make this one an excellent cut off the album.

Walking Talking With My Lord may be the best cut off the album. This pays homage to the Blackwood Brothers quartet. The song features bass singer Joe “Todd” Armstrong and Reno on the verses. Armstrong delivers a powerful low bass performance and Reno seems to have channeled his inner James Blackwood with the verses.

Farther Along  is another highlight of the album. This features the powerful vocals of Armstrong again and is a remake of the Florida Boys original version.  

This album overall is a solid effort by the group and shows the new lineup has the vocals and harmonies to make some noise in the industry. The only complaint is there are 8 songs as opposed to the usual 10. But I assume that’s why there were 2 albums released.

Album rating 4 out of 5 stars.

2). Everything’s Alright:

This project is another 8 song release.

Album Highlights:

It starts off with an upbeat tune entitled Everything’s Alright. This number features Parrish on tenor and is a catchy tune.

I Met The Master has been recorded over the years by many groups. The Booth Brothers currently have an arrangement on this number as does Gold City quartet. This arrangement is the original one as recorded by Jake Hess.  This offering features Reno on lead and he performs this cut with emotion and with the added tight harmonies, this cut stands out on the album. Forget the newer arrangements recently that have come out; this homage to the original easily tops those efforts.

When God Dips His Love In My Heart was recorded by such artists as Hank Williams and Allison Krauss. This one features Armstrong on bass and he nails it with his low tones.

Scars In The Hands Of Jesus is a remake of the original Florida Boys classic tune. Tenor Nathan Parrish provides his best performance off either album on this number. As with I Met The Master, this one is a standout off the album.

If Jesus Came To Your Town recorded previously by both George Jones and the Oakridge Boys, the Florida Boys decided to go with the George Jones arrangement and produced a solid effort. This one features lead singer Charlie Waller and the message of the song combined with the excellent vocals make this one a nice highlight.

The Florida Boys have been around a long time and have produced many hits over the years. These two releases offer some of the groups best material in a number of years. The two newcomers have added a lot to the group. Parrish is a fine young tenor with a really nice range and Reno provides a smooth high lead singer vocal style that enables the group to have a modern sound when featured. Add in Waller’s command of the audience and a powerful bass and you have this groups best lineup in ages.

We would have liked to have seen a little more balance in song selection so the projects weren’t as tenor heavy. This lineup is too talented to lean towards one vocalist.

Album rating 4 out of 5 stars.

For more information about the Florida Boys or to order these projects:

The Florida Boys Website