Rating: 4 stars
Producer: Tre’ Corley, Paul Corley, & Rick Sandidge
Label: Activate Records
Song titles: But For The Cross; Come And See; I’m So Saved; The Wedding Song; Put It Right There; We Are The Church; Saved By The Blood; The Blessed Hope; Someday Soon; I’ll Let You Lead Me; Standing On The Daily Promises
The LeFevre Quartet’s newest release comes in at an interesting point in their discography, as it is their first truly new release since 2008′s Nothin’ But Good. Since that time, the group has released a Christmas table project, a classics table project, a live release that combined songs from the classics album and Nothin’ But Good, and another recent table project that featured new recordings of both LeFevre Quartet songs and a couple that tenor Harold Reed brought over from The Kingsmen. Over that time period, the group has also morphed into a basically completely new quartet. Baritone Mike LeFevre is the only vocal member remaining from the lineup that produced the 2008 mainline release under Canaan Records. The vocalists now stand at tenor Reed, lead singer Jordan LeFevre (who stepped from behind the drums and sound board after David Staton’s departure), baritone Mike, and bass Paul Harkey.
Despite all the changes, the group continues the interesting arranging and strong song choices found in Nothin’ But Good and further refines those attributes. The title cut is a great example of this; a powerful song about the impact of the Cross, featuring an orchestrated sound fused with more modern elements, and an arpeggiated chord placed near the end of each chorus. Right off the bat, the group highlights the fact that their ensemble sound is the strongest it has been in their history.
Each of the group members has at least one strong feature. Newcomer Paul Harkey is featured on the first verse of the new single, “I’m So Saved,” an upbeat tune from the pen of Dianne Wilkinson that immediately grabbed my attention. Harkey is also spotlighted on “Saved By The Blood,” and a jazzy tune with a familiar sound entitled “I’ll Let You Lead Me.” Jordan LeFevre’s first full effort from the group gives him a chance to shine with the smooth “Come And See,” which got a strong reception at NQC 2012, as well as verses on “But For The Cross” and “I’m So Saved. His father, Mike, takes the first verse of the title cut, and gets a full feature on the “We Are The Church.”
Fans of Harold Reed’s days with quartets like the Dixie Melody Boys, The Florida Boys, and The Kingsmen may be thrown for a loop if they are expecting that same traditional sound. Reed is taken out of what may be considered his “comfort zone” on this project, but he pulls it off with aplomb. While “The Blessed Hope” does fit into that traditional vein, his lead on the final part of “I’m So Saved” is definitely outside the box. He is also put out front on “Put It Right There,” another “different” song for him that parallels a father and his drug-addicted son with the crucifixion of Jesus. The lyrical content is something that is not usually found in a Southern Gospel song, and it is one of the strongest songs on the project.
While not every song on the project is a home run (“Someday Soon” didn’t fit with the rest of the material, and “Standing On The Daily Promises” seemed clichéd), it is strong enough to be worth the wait for a new mainline release from the group, and sets a good reference point for the LeFevre Quartet to build from. But For The Cross receives 4 stars.