Rating: 4 stars
Producers: Wayne Haun & Jason Clark
Label: Vine Records
1. The Love Of God – The project’s opener features the group’s youngest member, Amber Nelon Thompson. This particular track does a great job of highlighting her growth as a vocalist in her time with the group. She definitely has her mother’s vocal power, with a modern twist on it (think Kelly Nelon meets Carrie Underwood.) The song’s verses are reminiscent, in both lyrics and structure, of “Don’t Let Me Miss The Glory,” but the chorus gives the song its own identity. Amber absolutely knocks off the top off her solos, and I actually had to rewind before the last chorus to make sure what I was hearing wasn’t just an ultra-high steel guitar riff; the lead-in she gives there sounds like a Mariah Carey vocal run.
2. Beside Still Waters - This song that the Mark Trammell Trio originally did serves as the title track for this CD. Each vocalist takes a turn on the verses, and though the song is by no means a standout, it’s a good showcase of the trio’s harmony.
3. Goodbye Valley, Hello Mountaintop - A fast-paced country tune gives Jason Clark a solo vehicle. Clark does a great job carrying the melody here, and the key changes make for some interesting high harmony.
4. There Is A Way – In a true standout on the project, Amber Nelon Thompson is once again featured, but this time on a powerful ballad. The song is already powerful, backed by beautiful orchestration, but on the bridge, the key changes and takes the song into the clouds. Probably my favorite on the project.
5. He Found Me - In a contrast to the big ballad, this track features a medium-tempo blues feel. Jason Clark takes the first verse, and Amber has the second. This song was a good choice for the first radio single.
6. Settled At The Cross - In her first true solo on the CD, Kelly Nelon Clark is featured on a ballad that is sure to become a signature for her. The sound of her voice has been a constant in the group’s existence, and her alto fits the song perfectly.
7. I’m Going Home With Jesus – This classic by The McGruders has been taken and reinvented to give it a modern feel. The group does a great job redoing it; it doesn’t sound like just a cover version, and they really make it their own. The song has a built-in encore that has another Amber lead-in; this time sounding like something Kim Hopper would do. Fantastic track!
8. My Tribute (To God Be The Glory) – The trio covers this Andrae Crouch classic with a “power orchestra” sound, opening with blaring horns, and electric guitars kicking in on the bridge. While not as original as their cover of “I’m Going Home With Jesus,” their version of this song certainly does it justice.
9. Weep – Kelly takes the lead on this mid-tempo song. Like the title track, it’s not a memorable song, but more of a showcase of harmony. Very smooth, mellow track.
10. Consider Me - Jason Clark carries this mid-tempo jazzy tune. More smooth singing, with some interesting lyrics on the chorus. “Consider me a Jesus fan,” as Averyfineline noted, is a bit campy for my taste, but not so glaringly annoying as to detract from the song.
11. Jesus, What A Wonderful Name - It’s back to the orchestra for this worshipful ballad. This is one of the more memorable songs on the project; it’s powerfully delivered both musically and vocally.
12. I Choose To Live - The closing track serves as the vocal debut for Kelly Nelon Clark younger daughter, Autumn. She does a great job here; her voice fits very well with the other members of the group, and she carries the melody well.
Final Thoughts: I’ll be honest; up until this point, I really hadn’t paid much attention to The Nelons. Sure, I know a lot of their older stuff, from back when they were the Rex Nelon Singers, and sure, they’ve had some great songs over the years, but nothing they had done in quite a long time was grabbing my attention.
Beside Still Waters, from the first note to the last, had me sitting up in my chair and really listening. The project features some of the best songs and vocal performances that the group has had in their existence, and each singer has solid features on this project. Wayne Haun & Jason Clark did an excellent job of producing a great sound from both the musicians and the singers, and while not every track was a standout, this is a pretty stellar collection of songs.
Bottom line: Both longtime fans of The Nelons, or those just being introduced to the group, will enjoy this latest effort by the group.