The Mylon Hayes Family have been singing for several years, but seem to be on an upward trajectory of late. The family consists of Mylon, a veteran on the gospel music scene with the classic Hayes Family, wife Wendy, twin sons Conner and Bailey (17) and daughter Kennedy (13). They certainly caught my eye (and ear) with video performances of gospel convention classics like “Rock of Ages, Keep My Soul” and “Jesus Spoke to Me,” and their involvement in the Gospel Music Hymn Sing events. To hear a young family singing the old-fashioned way is an incredible treat, so I made sure to pick up their latest recording, Devoted. I got the CD looking for some great convention singing, but I ended up getting a whole lot more.
Because of my love for convention songs, the title that jumped out at me first was ol’ Page 2 in the redback Church Hymnal, the delightful but rarely-recorded “It’s Just Like Heaven”. And a tremendous cut it is, sung note-for-note from the redback (down to the fermata in the middle of the verse!), with an energetic track. My reaction: repeat, repeat, repeat. While that’s the only classic convention number on the album, it’s not the only convention-style singing. Two new songs, “The Coming of the Lord” and “I’ll Take It Like It Is” break into a little counterpoint in the chorus as well. They are outstanding and fun tracks. I especially like the latter, with a strong lyric on the supremacy of the Bible. There are no better sources today for new, but old-fashioned, gospel songs than Rebecca Peck and Dianne Wilkinson. Peck wrote “The Coming of the Lord” and the two co-wrote “I’ll Take It Like It Is”. Peck, who is Mylon’s cousin, wrote or co-wrote eight of the thirteen songs found on Devoted. That is what I call a recipe for success. Another fast-paced highlight among hers is “One More Opportunity,” which is an ideal concert opener encouraging the listener to join in a time of praise.
Besides their obvious aptitude in technical convention singing, the teenagers can all hold down a strong feature, and each gets one on Devoted. Conner sings “At the Foot of Calvary’s Cross,” with a mid-tempo country style. Bailey gets the smooth, easy-listening tune “He Is All I Need”. Young Kennedy shines on the hard-driving “I Choose to Stand”. Kennedy’s voice is an absolute “ear magnet,” meaning that any time she does anything in a song, be it a solo or step-out line, it demands the attention of the listener. This is a quality all the great singers have.
If you’ve been paying attention in the last year or so in gospel music, you already knew the Mylon Hayes Family could sing something fast and fun. What surprised me on Devoted was a trio of power songs that rank among the best new songs I’ve heard all year. A few measures into “Grace Happened Here,” Rodney Griffin’s hand is already apparent. Mylon is featured on this lyric that supposes an answer to the age-old question of what Jesus wrote on the ground in John 8, and makes a beautiful application. Mylon is also featured on the Wilkinson/Peck anthem “What an Anchor”. What a lyric, what a song! The talented Cody McVey deserves a lot of credit for his orchestration and arrangement of these two stirring power ballads. The album closes with a mid-tempo ballad from Peck, “It’s Not a Problem for the Answer,” which features Wendy. I haven’t stopped singing this one since I first heard it. There is absolutely no reason why it shouldn’t be a smash #1 hit and Song of the Year candidate. It’s that good.
I listen to a lot of new CDs each year, and there are usually only one or two that make me want to call up all my friends and tell them to buy it. I’ve heard excellent new music from the “big names” like Greater Vision and the Collingsworth Family, but in 2015, I found that excitement with the Mylon Hayes Family and Devoted, which is now my favorite recording of the year. Go get it.
Album Rating: 5 stars
1. Praise Him! Praise Him! (Fanny Crosby/Chester G. Allen)
2. One More Opportunity (Rebecca Peck/Allen Guyer)
3. Love Medley [The Way That He Loves (Elmo Mercer), The Wonder of It All (George Beverly Shea), The Love of God (Vep Ellis)]
4. At the Foot of Calvary’s Cross (Peck/Amber Maxwell)
5. He Is All I Need (Peck/Dianne Wilkinson)
6. The Coming of the Lord (Peck)
7. Grace Happened Here (Rodney Griffin/Natalie Harp)
8. I Choose to Stand (Sandy Blythe)
9. Devoted to You (Peck/Wilkinson)
10. It’s Just Like Heaven (W. Oliver Cooper)
11. What an Anchor (Peck/Wilkinson)
12. I’ll Take It Like It Is (Peck/Wilkinson)
13. It’s Not a Problem for the Answer (Peck)
Available at: Mylon Hayes Family