Rating: 4.5 stars
Producers: Jeff Collins, Arthur Rice, Allen Leath
Label: Crossroads Music
1. What A Wonderful Time – The album opens up with a country-flavored tune that reflects the traditional sound the group had on their previous project, Turning Point. Judging from that project and this track, the group’s strength seems to lie in the traditional quartet numbers such as this.
2. The First And Last – The group turns the Rodney Griffin-penned song off of Greater Vision’s Everyday People CD into a solid quartet number. The arrangement is a bit different in this version, giving bass singer Justin Terry a solo on the second verse, and the tempo is a bit slower than Greater Vision’s cut. The group does a good job of taking this trio song and making it their own.
3. The Blood Remains – New tenor vocalist Marcus Faulknor is featured on the project’s first ballad. Fans may remember Faulknor from his work with Jericho and Master Peace. He turns in a solid performance on this track, and the song fits his voice well.
4. Keep Living For Jesus – This cut is to be the first radio single off the project and it is the song you may remember that I previewed a few weeks back here on the blog. It exhibits the group sounding similar to the era of the Gaither Vocal Band with Jonathan Pierce. Lead singer Davis McCammon Jr. gets the solo here, with bass Justin Terry getting the standout lines on the choruses.
5. It Just Started For Me – The title track features the jazzy side of the group, a side not really shown heretofore. Baritone Allen Leath and lead McCammon trade off the features here on the verses. It’s a good pick for a title song, but it doesn’t really kick up until the last chorus.
6. Under Control – The Gold City classic that featured Tim Riley is covered here, featuring the group’s bass singer, of course. At 25 years old, one wouldn’t think he would do the song justice. His voice is mature beyond his years, and he does a great job singing the song without sounding like a Riley impersonator. The arrangement doesn’t really stray from Gold City’s, but it is a solid effort.
7. Thinking More Of Heaven – A country track about going to heaven, this song sounds like something from a recent Dove Brothers project. Nothing that really stands out here, but it is a good song.
8. Come To The River – This song is pretty different from anything else I’ve heard the group do. The slow, shuffling tempo gives it kind of a “beach” sound, and the group’s smooth harmonies shine here.
9. We Are Almost Home – It’s a jump back to straight-up quartet music for this tune. This is the style that was dominant on Cross 4 Crowns’ previous work, and Justin Terry sounds very much like Jeff Chapman on these types of songs.
10. He Could Have Called Ten Thousand Angels – Baritone Allen Leath gets the finest feature I’ve ever heard him do here. It starts with him singing much of the song solo, then the group comes on and the song gets a powerful finish. This ballad is a highlight for this project, and the group would do well to single it to radio. It could be the breakout hit they are waiting for!
11. There’s Only One Well – This peppy, horn-driven tune closes this CD out. Faulknor displays that he’s a tenor that can sing a slow, pretty ballad like “The Blood Remains,” and then turn around and do a faster number just as well.
Final Thoughts: When Turning Point came out last year, Cross 4 Crowns had just signed with Crossroads Music, and the project was considered their label debut, although they had just completed doing it without the label backing them. It turned quite a few heads, including that of this blogger, as it was one of most impressive debuts in recent memory. That project showed what the group could do with a limited budget; this project shows what they can do with a record label behind them.
The group branches out a bit more stylistically than their last outing, and somewhat develop their own sound instead of sounding so much like the Kingdom Heirs. Justin Terry, for instance, doesn’t sound so much like Jeff Chapman here although the maturity and depth are still there. Each vocalist in the group gets their chance to shine here, and to good effect.
A lot may wonder what the group sounds like with the new tenor. Since Turning Point, Dallas Rogers departed the group, Matt Felts joined and left, and they picked up Marcus Faulknor. The group hasn’t missed a beat through all the changes, and Faulknor actually seems like a better fit and the harmonies are smoother. Not a knock to Rogers at all; he just fits better in The Inspirations.
Bottom line: Cross 4 Crowns has turned in another great effort, and they can only go up from here.