Aaron Swain's blog about Southern Gospel Music, News, and other items of interest in the SG world.
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Archive for the ‘Sounds of Jericho’

CD Review: Sounds of Jericho – The Story of His Grace

March 02, 2013 By: Aaron Category: CD Reviews, SG Artists, SG Music, Sounds of Jericho

Rating: 4 starsSounds of Jericho - The Story of His Grace

Producer: Mark Dowdy
Label: Independent Release
Website: www.soundsofjericho.com

Song titles: Deeper Journey; If The Lord Wasn’t Walkin’ By My Side; Living Testimony; Resting Place; Wayfaring Stranger; Spread It Around; Jesus Never Changes; Standing In The Storm; I’d Rather Have Jesus; Leave The Light On; Ten Thousand Angels; Operator

Every so often, I’ll have a project come across my desk that is the debut for a brand new quartet to hit the Southern Gospel scene. Such is the case with this CD from Sounds of Jericho, a quartet out of Flowery Branch, GA that contains a couple faces we’ve seen before. The group was formed by tenor Stephen Sigmon and bass Stacy Bragg, who were both charter members of the LeFevre Quartet. These two are joined in this new endeavor by lead Matt Tyler and baritone Ken Thomas. Since the release of this project, producer Mark Dowdy has joined as pianist.

Obviously, the challenge given to any new group is to establish themselves as a unique presence in the SG music world. A look at the history of this genre will tell you that the groups with a sound that sets itself apart have had a lot more staying power than a group that sounds like a carbon copy of what’s already there. Given that two of the group’s members were part of a well-known group already, I expected there to be a similarity to the sound of that era of the quartet. I was pleasantly surprised to find that there was only a passing comparison.

With a project made of mostly original songs, Sounds of Jericho does a good job of establishing their own identity. Some of the arrangements are pretty ambitious for a new group, but it was a risk that worked. Among the “cover songs,” I enjoyed the brassy treatment of the Henry Slaughter classic “If The Lord Wasn’t Walking By My Side” and the Country-Western tinged treatment of “Wayfaring Stranger.” The latter is probably the best classic cover on the project; it’s certainly unique from any other version I’ve heard.

The original songs make up the majority of the project, and do a good job of highlighting the sound of the group. The anthem “Living Testimony,” from which the project title is derived, would make a good choice for a radio single. “Deeper Journey” is a good harmony song. A couple of songs, such as “Spread It Around” and “Jesus Never Changes” are strong save for “plugged in” bridges made of hymns; they seem unnecessarily thrown into the songs, but this is a minor quibble.

One particularly surprising choice that a new group doesn’t usually make is throwing in an a Capella track. “Resting Place” starts off sounding like it could be a lead-in to a country or bluegrass track, but turns out to be completely instrument-free. This is a bold move, especially with some of the places the arrangement goes, but the quartet has a sound that blends well. It’s refreshing to see a new group click like this right off the bat.

I appreciate the fact that no singer strays out of their range anywhere on the album. In the early LeFevre Quartet days, Sigmon and Bragg both had moments where they seemed to be out of their comfort zone. That improved even during their time with the group, and has carried over to now. This debut project by Sounds of Jericho makes me wish that they traveled more outside of their home state, and hopefully, this project will start something in that direction. The Story of His Grace  receives 4 stars.

New Group: Sounds of Jericho

February 28, 2013 By: Aaron Category: SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music, Sounds of Jericho

Sounds of JerichoI’m digging myself from the piles of schoolwork I’m under this semester to update this blog (finally!). I hope to be able to start updating a bit more regularly than I have been, starting with this announcement of a new group that may contain some familiar faces to some of you:

“We would like to announce the formation of a new male quartet, Sounds Of Jericho.  Sounds of Jericho founding members are Stacy Bragg, Stephen Sigmon, Ken Thomas, and Matt Tyler.  Stacy and Stephen are not strangers to Southern Gospel Music, many will remember them as also being founding members of the 2006 Singing News Horizon Group of the Year, The LeFevre Quartet.

Stacy is one of Gospel Music’s finest bass singers, having tenure with several notable groups including The Statesmen and The LeFevre Quartet.  Stephen spent almost 3 years as tenor with The LeFevre Quartet and prior to that was a member of a regional quartet, based in Georgia, for over 15 years.  These men have teamed up with some very talented singers in Ken Thomas and Matt Tyler.  Matt has over 18 years experience with the Peachland Quartet and Ken Thomas is a featured soloist at one of North Georgia’s largest churches, Blackshear Place Baptist Church.

“We are very excited about this new venture and we fully believe that God still has plans for us in the Southern Gospel Music Industry”, says Stephen Sigmon.  “We have recently released our inaugural project, entitled The Story Of His Grace, and look forward to sharing our Story of Grace in concerts around the Southeast.”

Sounds Of Jericho can be reached through their website, www.soundsofjericho.com, or through their Facebook page, www.facebook.com/SoundsOfJericho.”

Be looking for a CD review of Sounds of Jericho’s debut project some time this weekend.