Album Review: Stay (Old Paths)

StayIt’s been said here and elsewhere in the gospel music world over the last few years that the Old Paths were one of the best up-and-coming quartets in America.  Let’s go ahead and remove one of the modifiers and call the Old Paths, simply, one of the best quartets in America.  They’ve had four songs reach #1 on the Singing News chart since December 2012; no artist can claim more.  They are reaping the rewards of consistency in their vocal lineup, working on three and a half years of Jeremy Peace at tenor, Tim Rackley at lead, Doug Roark at baritone, and Daniel Ashmore on bass.  With their third major Crossroads release, Stay, the Old Paths are no longer out to show their worth among the top quartets in gospel music, but to continue providing the quality of music and songs that already put them on that tier.

With the fantastic radio success the Old Paths have had, they are sure to draw the attention of gospel music’s top songwriters.  And as songwriters go, there are none better right now than Dianne Wilkinson and Rebecca Peck.  They wrote, individually and together, six of the ten songs featured on Stay.  The three co-writes are three of the strongest songs on the recording.  The opener, “Have You Ever,” is a bluesy number that sounds right out of the Kingdom Heirs playbook.  It’s a sort of new sound for the Old Paths, but it works very well.  “Washed in the Blood” busts out the fiddle for a fun country-style tune.  Ashmore has one of the very best features of his young career on this song that declares the one true method of salvation.  Finally, “How Great the Debt” is an outstanding big ballad feature for Rackley, out of the same stylistic mold as the hit, “Long Live the King”.  After “racking” my brain, I can’t think of five lead singers in gospel music right now as good as Rackley, and he delivers again on this one.

The Old Paths are always strong on the hard-driving quartet songs, and this recording’s best example is Wilkinson’s “What Did They Call Him”.  If you’ve heard “It’s Jesus,” which Wilkinson wrote and the Mark Trammell Trio recorded more than a decade ago, you’ll find this song’s pattern familiar, but still enjoyable.  A Peck composition found at the end of the album, “Out of the Grave” brings a much different type of high energy, trumpeting the victory of Christ’s Resurrection. Jeremy Peace is one of southern gospel’s singular talents, and he delivers this song in a way only he can.  Peace also shines brightly on “You Never Cease to Amaze Me,” a worship ballad from Peck’s pen.

Two names I’ve seen on lots of quality songs in the last couple of years are Rachel McCutcheon and Karen Gillespie, who co-wrote “Just Can’t Get Over,” Roark’s lone feature on Stay.  With a memorable hook and an easy melody, it’s the kind of song that easily rings in the listener’s mind all day.

Despite the large number of contributions from songwriting giants, the Old Paths still make sure to go back to the well of songwriters with whom they had previous success.  Rodney Birch, most impressively, has written three of the quartet’s #1 hits: “Battle Stand,” “God’s Great,” and “Love Them to Jesus”.  On Stay, he contributes “Ordinary People,” which bears a strong musical kinship to “God’s Great”.  Would you believe they are releasing it as the first single from the new project?  You can’t argue with that kind of success.

The recording’s most poignant lyric comes from the title song, written by Ray Scarbrough (whose “He’s My Song” and “I’m Saved” the Old Paths have recorded).  It illustrates the setting found in John 13 and 14.  Jesus has just conducted the Last Supper, washed the disciples’ feet, and told them that He would be betrayed.  The heaviness of chapter 13 gives way to the comfort of chapter 14, when Jesus promises both Heaven and the Holy Spirit to the grieving disciples.  “Stay” will be sure to resonate with listeners with its touching message the Lord’s enduring closeness to His children.

The main thing that keeps Stay from being one of my very top favorites, like the most recent efforts from the Kingdom Heirs, Mark Trammell Quartet, and the Kingsmen, is that there aren’t any strong convention-style quartet songs.  That’s more of a personal stylistic preference than anything.  The closest song to that on the recording is “Oh, What a Happy Morning,” which is another good bass feature for Ashmore.

By now, the Old Paths shouldn’t be surprising any southern gospel fans with the quality of their music.  They deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as Triumphant, the Mark Trammell Quartet, Legacy Five, the Kingdom Heirs, and the other top quartets in the industry.  Stay will help keep them on that level, and they don’t appear to be letting up any time soon.

Album Rating:  4 stars

Song list:

1. Have You Ever (Dianne Wilkinson/Rebecca Peck)

2. You Never Cease to Amaze Me (Peck)

3. What Did They Call Him (Wilkinson)

4. Just Can’t Get Over (Rachel McCutcheon/Karen Gillespie)

5. Washed in the Blood (Wilkinson/Peck)

6. How Great the Debt (Wilkinson/Peck)

7. Ordinary People (Rodney Birch)

8. Stay (Ray Scarbrough)

9. Oh, What a Happy Morning (Larry Petree)

10. Out of the Grave (Peck)

Remembering Mosie Lister

MosieGospel music lost another giant yesterday with the passing of Mosie Lister, author of many classic songs that rank among the greatest in the history of the genre.  At age 93, he was one of the last remaining, or maybe even the last remaining of the songwriters of the classic era of gospel music, pre-Gaither.  Along with convention era greats like Vep Ellis, “Dad” Speer, Albert Brumley, and Lee Roy Abernathy, his songs shaped the sound of southern gospel music, and that influence extends immeasurably to the modern day.  Indeed, especially through the Booth Brothers, he was still churning out quality songs in the last decade or two.

Lister’s songs have not just been recorded hundreds or thousands of times, but they are well-known to the church at large.  Several of his compositions are standards in hymnals.  So most any Christian can probably list a favorite or two or twenty.  The following is a list of some of my favorite recordings of Mosie Lister songs.  The Booth Brothers, whose close relationship with him (Lister is Michael Booth’s father-in-law) has been mutually beneficial, appear several times.  They match up extremely well with Lister’s songs, but they are of  such immense quality and variety, that you can find them in the catalogs of virtually every gospel music artist.

(In alphabetical order)

1. “Down on My Knees,” Cathedrals, Old Convention Song (1985)

2. “Goodbye, World, Goodbye,” Gaither Homecoming Friends, Ryman Gospel Reunion (1996)

3. “Happy Rhythm,” Booth Brothers, Still (2014)

4. “His Grace Is Sufficient,” Booth Brothers, Pure Southern Gospel (2004)

5. “How Long Has It Been,” Mark Trammell Quartet, Testimony (2010)

6. “I’m Feeling Fine,” Cathedrals, Goin’ in Style (1988)

7. “I’ve Been Changed,” Booth Brothers, Pure Southern Gospel (2004)

8. “I’ve Got a Wonderful Feeling,” Gaither Homecoming Friends, Something Beautiful (1996)

9. “Land Where Living Waters Flow,” Hoppers, Joy for the Journey (1999)

10. “Love Was in the Room,” Booth Brothers, Will You Love Jesus More (1998)

11. “Still Feelin’ Fine,” Booth Brothers, This Stage of Grace (2001)

12. “Thank Him for the Miracle,” Booth Brothers, The Booth Brothers (2003)

13. “Then I Met the Master,” Booth Brothers, Declaration (2010)

14. “‘Til the Storm Passes By,” Greater Vision, When I See the Cross (1997)

15. “Where No One Stands Alone,” Gaither Vocal Band, I Do Believe (2000)

16. “While Ages Roll,” Gold City, Having Fun (1996)


It doesn’t get any better than this rousing rendition from the original Greater Vision of Lister’s most celebrated and enduring work, “‘Til the Storm Passes By”.

Album Review: Still (Booth Brothers)

StillStill is the latest release by one of gospel music’s most outstanding trios, the Booth Brothers, and is their first including baritone Paul Lancaster, who replaced 12-year mainstay Jim Brady.  Even with a new member in tow, this recording still finds the Booths applying their trademark tight harmonies to quality songs in a variety of styles.  Any fans who may have been concerned about the group losing ground after a rare personnel change have a resounding answer with Still: the Booth Brothers are as good as or better than ever.

My first exposure to songs on Still was hearing eight of them live on the Gospel Music Celebration Caribbean Cruise a couple of weeks ago.  To hear songs for the first time live, instead of on a CD, is quite a rarity for me, and I’m very glad that was the case for this album, especially since the Booths are such gifted live performers.  I will forever associate the album’s opener, “Faith Keeps Walking,” with the cruise, because I remember thinking when I heard it how well it fit the atmosphere.  With an easy, mellow groove, and water-themed lyrics, it just sounds like good “beach music”.  This track is quintessential ultra-smooth Booth Brothers all the way and one of my favorites on the disc.

Speaking of memorable live performances, that opener is followed by a cover of the quartet classic, “Happy Rhythm”.  Honestly, I’ve always felt the song was a little dumb and not one of my favorites, but it gets a totally new treatment here.  Instead of the standard bass boogie, it is given a big band sound, and moves at a frenetic and exciting pace.  This version keeps the listener on his toes throughout, and is now my favorite version of the song.  Another high-energy number is found near the end of the album.  “Down by the River” is a hard-driving call-and-response song featuring Ronnie that was quite a treat live.  On the recording, the energy doesn’t quite come through as much for me.

Of course, the Booth Brothers are known as much for their quiet deliveries of meaningful lyrics as they are for their energy, and there are a couple of great examples of that on Still as well.  The title track stays quiet and contemplative throughout, and contains a beautiful message on the enduring faithfulness of God.  I love this touching sequence of lines in the chorus: “His plans could never fail, not even one detail, His purpose will prevail”.  Another poignant standout, “Wildflower” is a Rebecca Peck composition written for Michael’s wife, Vicki, and is his primary vocal feature on the album.  The specific message of the song is obviously deeply personal and may not apply to every listener, but every Christian can draw inspiration from lyrics about God’s tender care for his children, even when all else have forsaken.

You can always count on the Booth Brothers to include very strong Biblical lyrics in every recording and live program.  One of the finest examples on Still is “I Am the Word,” an energetic anthem set to a stirring Lari Goss track, with a message on the sovereignty of the incarnate Word of God.  When I saw it live, Michael set it up by reading Scripture, and it was a memorable moment for sure.

Newest Booth Brother Paul Lancaster gets two outstanding features on Still, and they are my two favorite tracks.  Both were new to me when I heard them live on the cruise, though I’ve since learned that they were “borrowed” from other Christian music genres.  “Touch of the Master’s Hand” sets to music the familiar poem about the violin at auction, a beautiful picture of God’s grace.  Lancaster nails it here, and got rousing ovations both times he performed the song on the cruise.  But no song got as strong a reaction live as “Jesus Saves,” which is the final song on Still.  This track is one of the late Lari Goss’s last masterpieces, out of the same mold as the big ballads on the Booths’ 2009 Declaration recording.  Lancaster really gets an opportunity to show off his prodigious vocal abilities, but the real star here is Goss and his thrilling invigoration of the popular worship song.  This is another one of a long line of “guaranteed standing ovation” Goss productions. (And listen for the Collingsworths in the backing choir!)

As you know, I’m a big time traditional and quartet guy.  Still is not traditional, and it’s certainly not quartet.  But is a collection of outstanding songs, performed expertly by some of the best in the business.  Still is a must-have for the gospel music fan in 2015 and beyond.

Album Rating: 4.5 stars

Song list:

  1. Faith Keeps Walking (Jim Brady)
  2. Happy Rhythm (Mosie Lister)
  3. Still (Brady)
  4. Dirt on My Hands (Brady/Woody Wright)
  5. I Am the Word (Phil Enloe)
  6. The Touch of the Master’s Hand (Myra Brooks Welch/John Kramp)
  7. Whenever I Speak His Name (Russ & Tori Taff)
  8. Down by the River (Al Anderson/Mac McAnally)
  9. Wildflower (Vicki’s Song) (Rebecca Peck)
  10. Jesus Saves (Travis Cottrell/David Moffitt)

Cruise Review: 2015 Gospel Music Celebration Caribbean Cruise

Last week, my wife and I had the privilege and joy to celebrate our anniversary on board IMC Concerts’ and Inspiration Cruises’ 2015 Gospel Music Celebration Caribbean Cruise.  For us, it was our first cruise of any kind, so we were equally excited by the “cruising” aspect of the trip, and the gospel music part.  The cruise took place on Holland America’s luxurious MS Westerdam, making stops in the ports of Grand Turk, San Juan, St. Maarten, and Half Moon Cay, Bahamas.  The gospel music artists on board were the Booth Brothers, Greater Vision, Legacy Five, the Mark Trammell Quartet, Triumphant Quartet, the Jim Brady Trio, 11th Hour, TaRanda Greene, Danny Funderburk, Tim Lovelace, and the Cathedrals Family Reunion.

MS Westerdam

This is a gospel music blog, so I will be focusing on the music here, but make no mistake: cruising the Caribbean is an incredible experience.  Being on the vast open sea, with no land in sight, is a stunning reminder of just how big creation, and creation’s God, are.  And God’s creation doesn’t come much more beautiful than in 80-degree weather on the pristine beaches of the tropical islands.



The music itinerary consisted of seven evening concerts (one each night of the cruise), six of which featured three or four of the artists on board.  The exception was Monday night’s concert, which was a Cathedral Family Reunion event.  There was also a Sunday morning worship service including music and and a message from Mark Trammell, and morning and afternoon showcases throughout the week, including a “Stories Behind the Song” songwriter event, a hymn sing hosted by Gerald Wolfe, a “Comedy & Piano” showcase, and the Christmas Jubilee, featuring the Booth Brothers, Greater Vision, and Legacy Five.  Finally, there were two morning chapel services and four separate “meet and greet” sessions with the artists.

Instead of going through individual concerts, I thought I’d provide highlights from each of the artists on the cruise, each of whom sang several times throughout the week.

11th Hour11th Hour

For most of the people on board, including me, it was the first time seeing this young mixed trio in concert.  I at least came in familiar with a good bit of their music, having given favorable reviews to each of their Crossroads recordings.  Amber Eppinette, Grant Gibson, and Jaquita Lindsey proved to everyone that they could flat-out sing, with powerful and tight harmony.  They also showcase the songwriting talents of Eppinette, singing several of her songs.  11th Hour surely left this event with many new fans.

Song highlights: Picture This, Waving on the Other Side





Booth BrothersBooth Brothers

Most cruisers, including me, were seeing the Booth Brothers for the first time with new baritone Paul Lancaster.  For me, it was the first time seeing them at all outside of a short NQC set.  I gained new appreciation for not only their music ability, but their exciting stage presence, and their sincerity as presenters of the gospel in song.  The Booth Brothers were absolutely dynamite during this event and provided several of the week’s most memorable musical moments.  Lancaster is an outstanding fit, and if this cruise is any indication, they will remain at the very top of the gospel music genre for some time.  They sang eight songs from their new album, Still, receiving standing ovations multiple times.  Look for more details on those songs when that recording is reviewed here soon.

Song highlights: Jesus Saves, Touch of the Master’s Hand, Then I Met the Master, Happy Rhythm

CFRCathedrals Family Reunion

It really goes without saying that the Cathedrals Family Reunion program was thrilling and memorable.  They sang most of the tracks from their recent studio recording, and also did an extended set of songs accompanied only by Wolfe’s piano and Trammell’s bass, including some they probably don’t do often or at all, like “I’m Gonna Live Forever” and “Sin Will Take You Farther”.  Call me old-fashioned, but the piano/bass portion was the best part, and I think a lot of the crowd (and participants) would agree.

Song highlights: We Shall See Jesus, Master Builder, He Made a Change, Boundless Love




FunderburkDanny Funderburk

Danny Funderburk is my all-time favorite tenor, so it was a thrill to get to meet him and to hear him sing in person for the first time.  He mostly sang during the Cathedrals Family Reunion sets, but also sang several songs on his own, including his father’s masterpiece, “Whiter Than Snow”.   Another highlight was Legacy Five bringing him on to help sing “For What Earthly Reason”.  In possibly the most memorable single performance of the week, Funderburk teamed up with Trammell, Scott Fowler, Pat Barker, and a young man with Down syndrome attending the cruise, and absolutely tore the place apart with “I’ve Just Started Living” on the last night.

Song highlights: I’ve Just Started Living, Whiter Than Snow




Greater VisionGreater Vision

If you are even an occasional reader of this blog, you probably can tell I’m a big Greater Vision fan, so it’s always a highlight for me to be able to hear their signature deliveries of some of the most meaningful songs in gospel music.  They were the only group on the cruise that I had heard elsewhere recently, so most of their sets were familiar.  That didn’t, however, make them any less enjoyable.  Chris Allman singing “I Know a Man Who Can” never fails to be exciting, and Wolfe’s rendition of “Until You’ve Known the Love of God” is a moving recent addition to their repertoire.

Song highlights: Until You’ve Know the Love of God, I Know a Man Who Can, A Mighty Fortress Is Our God, I Could Never Praise Him Enough




Jim Brady TrioJim Brady Trio

I’m quite certain it was the first time for nearly everyone on the cruise hearing the brand new Jim Brady Trio, and anticipation was high.  Consider expectations exceeded.  They thrilled the audience with eight strong selections from their new recording throughout the week.  Tim Parton fits with Jim and Melissa like a glove, vocally and otherwise.  This group is not just someone’s bright idea…they already belong with the top artists in the genre.

Song highlights: Steppin’ Out in Faith, The Greatest of All Miracles, The Love of God







Legacy FiveLegacy Five

Legacy Five turned in their usual, consistently solid sets all week.  Much time is spent picking on young pianist Trey Ivey, but a lot of time was also given to showcasing his immense talents, and not only at the piano.  His vocal performance on “Getting Ready Today” is always a treat.  They delighted the crowd with several selections from their most recent recording, Great Day, and also by reaching back for some L5 classics like “I Found Grace”.  Their “Truth Is Marching On” closed out the week with a triumphant flourish.

Song highlights: Truth Is Marching On, Christ Is Still the King, Getting Ready Today


MTQMark Trammell Quartet

I can make the same comments here that I did about Greater Vision: I’m a Mark Trammell Quartet guy, so I obviously considered their sets a highlight.  It was the first time for me hearing them stage material from their Your Walk Talks recording, which was my 2014 Album of the Year.  It was also my first time seeing them with tenor Dustin Black and bass Randy Byrd, who are great fits with the group.  This quartet is just as solid as they come, and have a very strong stable of song material to work with nowadays.  Their performances of the big Lari Goss ballads from their Lifetime recording are always stirring, but I equally enjoyed their new, outstanding quartet songs.

Song highlights: The King Is Coming, Too Much to Gain to Lose, When the King Comes to Claim His Throne, I’ll Take It to the Grave, God’s Been Faithful

TaRandaTaRanda Greene

This was my first time seeing TaRanda sing in person, and I can say that yes, that voice is real.  She climbed into the rafters on several new songs, and a few selections drawn from her days with the Greenes.  Her inclusion on the cruise roster as a powerhouse soloist was an effective change-of-pace from all of the more traditional quartets and trios.

Song highlights: I Walked Today Where Jesus Walked, When God Has Another Plan








LovelaceTim Lovelace

The multi-talented musician and comedian showed up in various capacities throughout the week, always to the crowd’s delight.  I knew he was funny, but was further reminded about how talented he is as a musician, both with a guitar and piano.  Probably my favorite of his contributions was his story and performance of “Old Convention Song” during the songwriter showcase.

Song highlights: Old Convention Song, Away Fly I’ll







TriumphantTriumphant Quartet

Like the Booth Brothers, I had only seen Triumphant during short NQC sets.  This more extended listening opportunity showed me how effortlessly they seemed to excite the crowd.  I honestly can’t put a finger on specifically what it is, but something about the way they operate on stage is electric, and their extended reign as Quartet of the Year attests to that.  I very much enjoyed a set of four acoustic songs they did with Lovelace on guitar, but the highlights of their sets were the hard-driving quartet songs.

Song highlights: Saved by Grace, When the Trumpet Sounds, Because He Loved Me







I would recommend to anyone, if they get an opportunity, to go on a gospel music cruise.  And the Gospel Music Celebration does it right.  They will be heading to Alaska this summer, and to the Caribbean again next January, so think about it!  Visit IMC Concerts for more information!

The Best of Lari Goss

The gospel music community was shaken on Saturday by the passing of legendary performer, musician, producer, and visionary Lari Goss.  Goss’s contributions to gospel music go back to the 1960s, when he and his brothers were making some of the most innovative music in the genre.  I am sorry that I haven’t yet become familiar with those contributions personally, but I have gained the blessing of familiarity with much of his work as a producer and arranger from the past three decades.

Most of the biggest artists in southern gospel music in this period collaborated with Goss at some point, and he never failed to bring out the very best from them.  Indeed, when you saw Lari Goss in the credits of a recording, the result was typically an elevation of that artist’s sound, and a raising of their bar of excellence.  Though he was obviously brilliant in many different styles, his most indelible moments were those grand orchestrations, which time and again seemed to transport the listener straight to the throne of God.  He transformed songs into musical and spiritual experiences like none other.

I have only been a serious follower of southern gospel music for a few years, but it didn’t take long for me to catch on that there was a common name involved in many of my favorite recordings.  Even in those early days as a fan, I learned to anticipate the next Lari Goss production, and he never failed to deliver.  As a tribute to his work, I’d just like to post a few of my favorite recordings he produced and/or arranged.  It can be argued that all of the examples below represent the pinnacle of the discography of their respective artists, which is a grand testament to Goss’s ability.

Symphony1. Symphony of Praise, Cathedral Quartet (1987): It’s got to start here, right?  More than any other Goss production, this one turned quartet music on its head, and ushered in a new era of big ballads and soaring tracks.  This, his most impactful work, also happens to be my favorite gospel music album.  The most important song within is obviously “Champion of Love,” but the exquisite “God Himself the Lamb” and “For What Earthly Reason” are just as good or better, and rank among my personal favorite recorded performances of all time.  Those songs highlight the orchestrated half of the album, but the a cappella half is just as great, led by the awe-inspiring “Room at the Cross”.





hymnsages2. Hymns of the Ages, Greater Vision (2006): Just another hymn album?  Hardly.  This recording is perhaps the most powerful listening experience in my entire music collection.  With the opening notes of “All Creatures of Our God and King,” the listener is immediately whisked away on a journey through time, told through some of the greatest lyrics ever put to music.  It starts with Creator God, and ends with the Returning Christ.  I’d put the final four songs up against any group to finish an album: the bright and cheery Redeemed medley, the convention song-turned-power ballad “I Know He Heard My Prayer,” the anthem of the Church age “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” and the thrilling and transporting Second Coming medley.




declaration3. Declaration, Booth Brothers (2010):  For me, this recording is one of the best examples of Goss raising the bar for an already great group.  The Booth Brothers had never failed to record solid albums with meaningful songs, but this was just another level altogether for them.  The arrangements are magnificent and powerful, and draw out perfectly the talents of the individual singers.  It contains the most impressive rendition of the Mosie Lister classic “Then I Met the Master” I’ve ever heard.  The “In Christ Alone” medley is another standout cover, while “God Did It All” is simply breathtaking.






Lifetime4. Lifetime, Mark Trammell Quartet (2013): I’m thinking there was probably not much internal debate for Mark Trammell when deciding in whose hands to put his life story in song.  In one of Goss’s more recent efforts, he still managed to chart new territory for songs we already thought we knew.  There are some great toe-tapping quartet numbers here, but the highlights are certainly the big medleys.  The first song I thought of when I was shocked by the news of Goss’s death on Saturday was the “Golden City Tour” medley found here.  You’d be hard-pressed to find better renditions anywhere of “The King Is Coming” or “Too Much to Gain to Lose”.  It will always be a treat to hear the talents of Lari Goss matched up with two of the greatest vocal talents of this time in Mark Trammell and Pat Barker.




moreenough5. More Than Enough, Whisnants (2011): Here’s my personal “dark-horse” favorite on the list, that may not be as celebrated as some of the others.  The Whisnants never sounded better than on this recording, and it contains several of my favorite performances by the trio.  Probably the biggest highlight is the sweeping and inspirational ballad “All Is Well”.  “I’ll Trust the Potter’s Hand” is also very moving, and a signature performance by Susan Whisnant.  Speaking of signature songs, Aaron Hise on “I’m Trusting the Blood” is another standout.  “He’s Living Today” breathes new life into an older Whisnants tune and is exciting from beginning to end.






We will never be able to replace the contributions of Lari Goss to gospel music.  But we can celebrate them more than ever, and follow his example in striving for excellence in our work.  What are some of your favorite Lari Goss contributions?  I’d love to hear some ways in which he impacted your life!


2014 Year in Review: Top Albums

YourWalkTalks_CDI faced a very difficult decision this year when selecting my top album of 2014.  There was absolutely no debate in my mind what the two top recordings were, but which one should be “Album of the Year”?

The Kingsmen really made a huge comeback this year with the stellar Battle Cry.  The only recording this quartet has had on my year-end list in the last three years was Grace Says, which came in at #10 in 2011.  It was a great thrill to award them a 5-star rating for their tremendous collection of quartet singing.

But after much internal debate, it had to be #2, by the smallest of hairs.  The Mark Trammell Quartet’s Your Walk Talks, released in January, is Southern Gospel Critique’s 2014 “Album of the Year”.  They followed the same formula the Kingdom Heirs used to win the award in 2013, with Redeeming the Time: record a bundle of Dianne Wilkinson quartet songs with class and top-notch vocal ability.  The great songs are highlighted by several standout performances from bass Pat Barker, the impressive debut of tenor Dustin Black, excellent signing and writing by lead Nick Trammell, and the rock-solid dependability and skill of Mark Trammell.

Keep those great quartet albums coming!  Also near the top of the list in 2014 are the third Barry Rowland & Deliverance recording in four years to make my top list, and the highest-ranked solo recording in my four years of reviewing, the triumphant Welcome Home by Joseph Habedank.

Now, the complete list of my Top 10 albums of 2014:


  1. Your Walk Talks, Mark Trammell Quartet (review)
  2. Battle Cry, Kingsmen (review)
  3. A Family Affair, Barry Rowland & Deliverance (review)
  4. Welcome Home, Joseph Habedank
  5. Into His Presence, Perrys
  6. Picture This, 11th Hour (review)
  7. Journey of Hope, Tribute Quartet (review)
  8. God’s Word Will Stand, Inspirations
  9. Great Day, Legacy Five
  10. Open Carefully, Message Inside, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver (review)


I hope all of our readers enjoy a blessed New Year in service of the Lord!  See you in 2015!

2014 Year in Review: Top Songs

It’s that time of year again when we reflect on what has happened in the previous year, and anticipate what is to come in the next.  It’s always fun to do that here at Southern Gospel Critique and remember all the great music that has been created for our enjoyment and edification.  Today, I present my personal list of favorite recorded songs of 2014.

This year, unlike some years past, I legitimately had four or five songs I considered for “Song of the Year,” and it was a very difficult task to differentiate between those songs.  But in the end, I came back to a song from a recording released at the very beginning of 2014.  “When the King Comes to Claim His Throne,” written by Dianne Wilkinson and recorded by the Mark Trammell Quartet, is a great example of straight-up quartet singing, features a chorus with a fun bit of counterpoint, and has an exciting arrangement, including a false ending and turnaround.  But more importantly than those musical features, it is another outstanding Biblical exposition from Dianne Wilkinson, on an end-times topic that doesn’t get nearly as much attention as some others.  Drawing from Scripture in Revelation and Isaiah, it sums up most everything Christians need to know about the Millennial Reign of Christ.

“When the King Comes to Claim His Throne” is the second of back-to-back Southern Gospel Critique “Songs of the Year” for Wilkinson, and she has had at least one song in my Top 3 all four years I have been writing.  With five songs in my Top 20, I suppose it’s safe to say Dianne Wilkinson is my Songwriter of the Year for 2014!

Now, here is my list of Top Songs of the past year!


  1. “When the King Comes to Claim His Throne,” Mark Trammell Quartet, Your Walk Talks (Dianne Wilkinson)
  2. “I’ve Never Seen the Righteous Forsaken,” Kingsmen, Battle Cry (Rebbeca Peck)
  3. “I’ll Take It to the Grave,” Mark Trammell Quartet, Your Walk Talks (Dianne Wilkinson/Rebecca Peck)
  4. “Say Amen,” Brian Free & Assurance, Unashamed (Kenna Turner West/Lee Black/Michael Farren)
  5. “Never No Never,” Joseph Habedank, Welcome Home (Joseph Habedank/Lee Black/Tony Wood)
  6. “Glorious Night,” Kyla Rowland & Deliverance, Family Affair (Kyla Rowland)
  7. “Come and Dine,” Kingsmen, Battle Cry (Dianne Wilkinson/Daryl Williams)
  8. “Lord, I’m Thankful,” Perrys, Into His Presence (Joel Lindsey)
  9. “God’s Been Faithful,” Mark Trammell Quartet, Your Walk Talks (Dianne Wilkinson/Scott Inman)
  10. “A Family Affair,” Barry Rowland & Deliverance & Family, Family Affair (Kyla Rowland)
  11. “When the Lights Go Down,” Joseph Habedank, Welcome Home (Joseph Habedank/Matthew Holt)
  12. “Oh Yes I Am,” Kingsmen, Battle Cry (Regina Walden)
  13. “I’ve Found a Faithful Friend,” Inspirations, God’s Word Will Stand (Leonard Fletcher)
  14. “He Took Away My Burden,” Kingsmen, Battle Cry (Scott Inman/Daryl Williams)
  15. “Somebody Go Get God,” Barry Rowland & Deliverance, Family Affair (Kyla Rowland/Jessica Thomas Austin)
  16. “Your Walk Talks,” Mark Trammell Quartet, Your Walk Talks (Rodney Griffin/Babbie Mason)
  17. “I Am a Soldier,” Tribute Quartet, Journey of Hope (Kyla Rowland)
  18. “Christ Is Still the King,” Legacy Five, Great Day (Dianne Wilkinson/Rebecca Peck)
  19. “All Made It Ashore,” Tribute Quartet, Journey of Hope (Marcia Henry)
  20. “I’ll Keep on Running,” Hoggle Family, The Hoggle Family (Donald Morris)


Later this week, I’ll be posting my top albums of 2014!