Album Review: A Journey in Song (Pat Barker)

JourneyInSongAs much as it saddened the gospel music world to learn of Pat Barker’s departure from the road and the Mark Trammell Quartet, it didn’t take long to see that the beloved bass singer would not be disappearing completely.  He has remained active promoting, singing, and even recording in the last couple of months.  Barker’s double-CD solo recording, A Journey in Song traces his path in gospel music to this point, and gives fans a chance to hear him as they may have never heard him before.

The first disc of ten songs is actually a recording Barker made 17 years ago, which here is released in CD form for the first time.  He is widely regarded as one of the best melodic bass singers in gospel music, but listening to these songs makes it clear that there is no need to qualify that compliment with a vocal part.  Pat Barker could, and can, flat-out sing, with skill and warmth on par with any “lead” singer in the business.

Some of the songs on this disc are in the typical bass solo range with which most fans likely associate Barker.  Highlights among these include the classic “For What Earthly Reason” and an outstanding number, “Victory Comes From the Master,” which I had never heard before.  But the best part of the listening experience is to hear this so-called “bass singer” climb into a rich baritone range.  He does this to great effect on the opening hymn, “Be Still My Soul” and the modern anthem “He’s Alive,” which is particularly captivating.  Barkers saves his highest notes for a sublime rendition of “I’d Rather Have Jesus,” which carries him to the D above middle C in full voice, and all the way up to B-flat in falsetto.  Seventeen years later, he still has those notes.

The second disc is primarily composed of songs previously recorded as features for Barker by the groups with whom he has sung.  The songs are arranged in chronological order, starting with two songs by a local quartet, the Crystal River Boys, one song from the Diplomats, three from the Dixie Echoes, and two from the Mark Trammell Quartet.  Among these are songs most everyone has heard Pat sing, like “How Big Is God,” and songs very few have heard him sing, like “Just One More Soul”.  The final two songs are the only brand-new recordings in the collection.  “Poor Wayfaring Stranger” and “Temporary Home” are far apart on the musical spectrum, but contain a very similar lyrical message, which provides context for the album’s theme.  Barker’s “journey in song,” like every Christian’s earthly journey, is but a brief preparation for and preview to an eternity in heaven.

Just in case anyone hadn’t realized it yet, God gave Pat Barker a beautiful instrument , and I am glad to report that it is still being used in a wonderful way.  Just as much as his vocal talent, Barker’s heart shines through when listening to these songs.  I highly recommend joining Pat on this Journey in Song; your heart will be better for it.

Song List:

Disc 1

  1. Be Still My Soul
  2. Victory Comes From the Master
  3. Beulah Land
  4. Quiet Time
  5. He’s Alive
  6. Life Will Be Sweeter
  7. The Day of the Lord
  8. For What Earthly Reason
  9. Maybe Tomorrow
  10. I’d Rather Have Jesus

Disc 2

  1. Just One More Soul
  2. At the Cross
  3. Thanks to Calvary
  4. Not in a Million Years
  5. How Big Is God
  6. Welcome Home, My Child
  7. I Thirst
  8. I’ll Have a New Life
  9. Poor Wayfaring Stranger
  10. Temporary Home



    • LeviSJ on July 9, 2014 at 8:35 am
    • Reply

    Great review! Do you know where one might purchase this album?

    1. I would recommend contacting Pat on Facebook. I don’t believe he has anything set up for online ordering yet.

        • LeviSJ on July 9, 2014 at 9:19 am
        • Reply

        Cool beans! Thanks!

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