Rating: 3.5 stars
Producer: Corey Pearson
Label: Song Garden Music Group
Song titles: Grand Homecoming; Joy In The Storm; Buried My Sins In The Past; God Shall Wipe Away All Tears; If Not for the Blood of the Cross; The Other Side; Travelers Protected By Grace; He Still Takes Time For Me; We’re Gonna Rise; Sheltered in the Arms of God; I’ll Soon Be Gone
The Diplomats Quartet is a family group based out of Georgia that has been around in Southern Gospel music for years. The group made main stage at NQC a couple of years back, which was my first real introduction to them. I had been unfamiliar with their music before receiving this project, so I came to this review with no reference to their sound before they signed with Song Garden Music Group last year. This CD marks their debut with that label.
The Diplomats excel at the upbeat, country flavored style of Southern Gospel music. Tracks like “Joy In The Storm,” “The Other Side,” and “We’re Gonna Rise” attest to this fact, as the group’s collective harmony seems suited to such a style, which does not require quite as much polish as others do. This mixed quartet is one of those “let it fly” groups; what you hear is what you get, and while the blend may not be as “tight” as other groups, it works well as an ensemble.
A couple of the less up-tempo songs stand out as well. “Buried My Sins In The Past” is a straight forward SG tune featuring lead singer Corey Pearson, which shows off a bit of his range, and, once again, fits the group vocals well. Speaking of Corey, he delivers the best song on this album: “If Not For The Blood of the Cross.” A powerful ballad about Jesus’ sacrifice, the performance and lyrical content made me sit up and take notice. The Diplomats would do well to send this song to radio.
This project has its fair share of cover songs. The Florida Boys recorded “He Still Takes Time For Me” on their I’m Forgiven project in 2000, and while it was written by group leader Jim Pearson and arranged by Corey Pearson, the performance does not quite stack up to that of the Boys. Two Gospel classics are also covered with “God Shall Wipe Away All Tears” and “Sheltered in the Arms of God,” and while the latter does feature guest vocals by Darrin Vincent of Dailey & Vincent, neither track really sets itself apart from other renditions of each song. That is not to say they are bad recordings; I just like to hear a classic be done with a “spark” that at least differentiates that recording from any other.
The Diplomats have put together a solid collection of songs for their Song Garden debut that defines the sound they possess quite well. While not an all-around perfect recording, it is a solid effort, and I’m looking forward to see where the next step of this quartet takes them. Joy in the Storm receives 3.5 stars.