Rating: 5 stars
Producers: Martin Cook & Jeff Collins
Label: Horizon Records
*This project was purchased directly from the artist. This detail had no bearing on the final rating.
The Inspirations are a group that has carved a unique niche and developed a consistent sound in its history in Southern Gospel music. (Think the Dixie Echoes.) Before this project was recorded, the group got both a new lead singer, David Ragan, and a new tenor, Dallas Rogers. The latter came after long-time tenor, Archie Watkins, resigned from the group to take on a less hectic solo schedule. The obvious question here is this: how does two such changes impact the sound of the group?
The answer is, the group still sounds the same, but younger.
In hiring Dallas Rogers, the group hired a tenor that sounds like Archie Watkins when he first started with the group. The comparison is arguably strongest in the re-cut of a song that originally featured Watkins, “Thank God I Made It.” Roger’s vocal style and timbre is eerily similar to the elder tenor’s, and that fact helps keep longtime fans of the group happy.
As far as the project goes, the group has found a new spring in their step with their past few projects. They’ve picked songs that fit the group well and are stellar selections. It really started with “I Have Not Forgotten,” then “The Rose,” and now the title track for this project. I have a feeling that will be the next big hit for the group.
The project as a whole lets every vocalist get the spotlight. Dallas Rogers gets a big feature on a new song called “Dealing With Gold,” popping a few higher-end notes I wasn’t expecting. Baritone Melton Campbell sings a Joseph Habedank offering called “Stone’s Throw Away” that seemed tailored for his voice. Bass singer Mike Holcomb shines on both “Heaven Knows Where I’ve Been” and his solo verse on “The Son Came Down.” New lead singer David Ragan gets a feature on the latter as well, and he injects some young blood into the group just like Rogers.
Bottom line: Like I stated earlier, The Inspirations are steadily improving the quality of the material they put out. This project is a great way to introduce the new lineup to the world and show them what they are capable of.