Aaron Swain's blog about Southern Gospel Music, News, and other items of interest in the SG world.
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CD Review: Mark Trammell Quartet – Lifetime

October 30, 2012 By: Aaron Category: CD Reviews, Mark Trammell Quartet, SG Artists, SG Music

Rating: 5 stars

Producers: Lari Goss and Mark Trammell
Label: Daywind Records
Website: www.marktrammellministries.com

Song titles: Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah; ‘Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus; Way Past Ready; Garden City Tour Medley; Wonderful Time Up There; Too Much To Gain To Lose; Meet Me Over On The Other Side; Footprints of Jesus; I Sing The Mighty Power; The King Is Coming Medley

I’ll admit it; whenever I see the description of an upcoming project of “hymns and classics,” and the project is supposed to be a mainline release, I cringe. This is because these projects usually just rehash the same old songs that everybody and their brother has recorded, and doesn’t really do anything to break the mold, and I just end up wishing it was a table project to tide the listener over for the next major CD. When I saw some of the songs on the track list for this album, I had the same reaction. My interest was piqued a little when I saw some songs that haven’t been done to death, but I still had doubts as I gave the CD a first┬árun-through.

The Mark Trammell Quartet has released a collection of material here that, thankfully, exceeded my expectations. Starting with a triumphant rendition of “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah,” it’s clear that this list of old songs isn’t just more of the same. A good example of this is a brassy arrangement of “Wonderful Time Up There.” This song is one that could have easily fallen into the problem I mentioned earlier; everybody seems to record it at least once, so it all runs together. Not so this time around; the orchestration gives it a unique flair, and bass singer Pat Barker turns in one of the stronger performances of his career.

Tenor Eric Phillips marks his return to the group on this project, and sounds as if he has not lost a thing in his years off the road. His solo feature on the CD, “‘Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus,” may not be pitched in the rafters, but it shows a smoother side of his voice that was rarely brought to bear with the Mark Trammell Trio. That’s not to say he doesn’t do some high singing here; his ensemble work on songs such as “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah,” “Wonderful Time Up There,” and “Way Past Ready,” to name a few, give the listener plenty to enjoy in that regard. Speaking of “Way Past Ready,” it is the only original song on the project, and is strong enough to fit in with the rest of the track list.

Baritone Mark Trammell is the frontman for most of the songs, and over the years has perfected a delivery style that is both unique and reliable, hitting notes that few baritones attempt (for example, the high B-Flat during “Golden City Tour Medley.”) Though the project was built around the concept of songs from the years of Trammell’s life, he is featured on the only “new” song, the aformentioned”Way Past Ready.”

While I would have liked to hear the solo feature tracks divided more evenly (Mark Trammell gets the lion’s share, with Eric Phillips and Pat Barker getting one each and new lead Nick Trammell getting none), this CD is evidence that the Mark Trammell Quartet has truly found their niche. Lari Goss’ production work, coupled with the strength of the vocals, makes for a “hymns and classics” project that is worth pushing through whatever reservations the listener may hold with that description. Lifetime receives 5 stars.

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6 Comments to “CD Review: Mark Trammell Quartet – Lifetime”


  1. Great review, and I agree with your rating and your conclusions.

    One thing I was going to mention, though: This isn’t the first smooth-and-easy solo Eric has done with the group; the first big feature I heard him do live with the group was “Pass Me Not” in their Beyond Still Waters era, ca. 2004, with Joseph Smith. I don’t remember if the track was on that album or the preceding table project.

    1
    • Thanks, Daniel!

      That’s right; my memory of any MTT material before Once Upon A Cross is kind of fuzzy, but I do remember that one. I should probably word what I was trying to say a little bit more clearly!

      2
    • That was from Something Good, their first Daywind release. I want to say it used the same track from Gold City’s Amazing Grace hymn project. Mark used several Gold City tracks on his trio’s first couple of albums.

      3
    • OK, Brian and Aaron! I have the recording it came from, but my most striking memory of it is as the first SG tenor solo I ever heard live! ­čÖé

      And BOY, was I ever spoiled. I just assumed that all tenors were as consistent and effortless as Eric.

      5
  2. They also recorded “Heaven” with Gold City’s soundtrack. That was their first radio single.

    6


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