Aaron Swain's blog about Southern Gospel Music, News, and other items of interest in the SG world.
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CD Review: Justin Terry – Inspired

March 02, 2012 By: Aaron Category: CD Reviews, Cross 4 Crowns, Justin Terry, SG Artists, SG Music

Rating: 4 stars

Producers: Justin Terry, Zack Knudsen, Andy Stringfield
Label: Unsigned (Self-released)
Website: www.justinterry.net

Song titles: There Is A Fountain, Two Winning Hands; He Has Taken His Children Home; Love Song; I’ve Never Been This Homesick Before; Knowing What I Know About Heaven; I Must Tell Jesus; I Go To The Rock; When He Reached Down His Hand For Me; God’s Gonna Do The Same For Me And You; In The Garden

A couple of years ago, there was a quartet whose label debut with Crossroads made a splash in the blogosphere, and part of the reason was the vocal prowess of their bass singer. Cross 4 Crowns boasted a young guy by the name of Justin Terry singing the bass part that drew comparisons to Jeff Chapman, a considerable feat considering his age. Now aged 28, Justin left the quartet after six years and has launched a solo ministry with this CD.

Those who have heard Cross 4 Crowns will likely know Justin Terry for the low notes he hits. On this project, he wisely breaks that mold, and instead opts for a country bass-baritone sound akin to Josh Turner or Trace Adkins. Terry covers material here that you would not expect out a bass singer’s solo project; for instance, The Hinsons’ “Two Winning Hands” gets an updated treatment that does a good job of showcasing Justin’s upper range. Other songs in that vein include “Knowing What I Know About Heaven” (yes, the one that Guy Penrod sings), and “God’s Gonna Do The Same For You And Me.”

This is not to say that the project is devoid of the lower singing that usually comes with things like this. The CD starts and ends with hymns, “There Is A Fountain” and “In The Garden,” which settle more into “bass lead” territory. Also done in a similar style is “When He Reached Down His Hand For Me,” which fits Terry’s voice well; he doesn’t try to be the next Tim Riley with it, and that works in his favor. The original song written by Justin’s dad, “He Has Taken His Children Home,” fits equally as well.

The only song that seems to interrupt the flow of the music is the fourth track, “Love Song.” Stylistically, it is different from anything else found here. While not necessarily a bad thing, and certainly not a bad song, it seems out of place here, and would perhaps have been better saved for another project of similar styles, or tacked on towards the end. Other than that, this CD is a strong collection of songs and a good display of Justin Terry’s talents. Inspired receives¬†4 stars.

CD Review: Cross 4 Crowns – It Just Started For Me

September 25, 2009 By: Aaron Category: CD Reviews, Cross 4 Crowns, SG Artists, SG Music

Rating: 4.5 stars

Producers: Jeff Collins, Arthur Rice, Allen Leath
Label: Crossroads Music
Website: www.cross4crowns.com

Buy This Project

1. What A Wonderful Time – The album opens up with a country-flavored tune that reflects the traditional sound the group had on their previous project, Turning Point. Judging from that project and this track, the group’s strength seems to lie in the traditional quartet numbers such as this.

2. The First And Last – The group turns the Rodney Griffin-penned song off of Greater Vision’s Everyday People CD into a solid quartet number. The arrangement is a bit different in this version, giving bass singer Justin Terry a solo on the second verse, and the tempo is a bit slower than Greater Vision’s cut. The group does a good job of taking this trio song and making it their own.

3. The Blood Remains – New tenor vocalist Marcus Faulknor is featured on the project’s first ballad. Fans may remember Faulknor from his work with Jericho and Master Peace. He turns in a solid performance on this track, and the song fits his voice well.

4. Keep Living For Jesus – This cut is to be the first radio single off the project and it is the song you may remember that I previewed a few weeks back here on the blog. It exhibits the group sounding similar to the era of the Gaither Vocal Band with Jonathan Pierce. Lead singer Davis McCammon Jr. gets the solo here, with bass Justin Terry getting the standout lines on the choruses.

5. It Just Started For Me – The title track features the jazzy side of the group, a side not really shown heretofore. Baritone Allen Leath and lead McCammon trade off the features here on the verses. It’s a good pick for a title song, but it doesn’t really kick up until the last chorus.

6. Under Control – The Gold City classic that featured Tim Riley is covered here, featuring the group’s bass singer, of course. At 25 years old, one wouldn’t think he would do the song justice. His voice is mature beyond his years, and he does a great job singing the song without sounding like a Riley impersonator. The arrangement doesn’t really stray from Gold City’s, but it is a solid effort.

7. Thinking More Of Heaven – A country track about going to heaven, this song sounds like something from a recent Dove Brothers project. Nothing that really stands out here, but it is a good song.

8. Come To The River – This song is pretty different from anything else I’ve heard the group do. The slow, shuffling tempo gives it kind of a “beach” sound, and the group’s smooth harmonies shine here.

9. We Are Almost Home – It’s a jump back to straight-up quartet music for this tune. This is the style that was dominant on Cross 4 Crowns’ previous work, and Justin Terry sounds very much like Jeff Chapman on these types of songs.

10. He Could Have Called Ten Thousand Angels – Baritone Allen Leath gets the finest feature I’ve ever heard him do here. It starts with him singing much of the song solo, then the group comes on and the song gets a powerful finish. This ballad is a highlight for this project, and the group would do well to single it to radio. It could be the breakout hit they are waiting for!

11. There’s Only One Well – This peppy, horn-driven tune closes this CD out. Faulknor displays that he’s a tenor that can sing a slow, pretty ballad like “The Blood Remains,” and then turn around and do a faster number just as well.

Final Thoughts: When Turning Point came out last year, Cross 4 Crowns had just signed with Crossroads Music, and the project was considered their label debut, although they had just completed doing it without the label backing them. It turned quite a few heads, including that of this blogger, as it was one of most impressive debuts in recent memory. That project showed what the group could do with a limited budget; this project shows what they can do with a record label behind them.

The group branches out a bit more stylistically than their last outing, and somewhat develop their own sound instead of sounding so much like the Kingdom Heirs. Justin Terry, for instance, doesn’t sound so much like Jeff Chapman here although the maturity and depth are still there. Each vocalist in the group gets their chance to shine here, and to good effect.

A lot may wonder what the group sounds like with the new tenor. Since Turning Point, Dallas Rogers departed the group, Matt Felts joined and left, and they picked up Marcus Faulknor. The group hasn’t missed a beat through all the changes, and Faulknor actually seems like a better fit and the harmonies are smoother. Not a knock to Rogers at all; he just fits better in The Inspirations.

Bottom line: Cross 4 Crowns has turned in another great effort, and they can only go up from here.

CD Review: Cross 4 Crowns – Turning Point

December 09, 2008 By: Aaron Category: CD Reviews, Cross 4 Crowns, SG Artists, SG Music

Rating: 4 stars

Producer: Arthur Rice
Label: Crossroads Music
Website: www.cross4crowns.com/

1. I Will Trade The Old Cross For A Crown – Right off the bat, the project features a classic SG song. The arrangement is pretty standard fare, but it showcases the group’s good harmony.

2. Things That I’m Seeing – The group definitely seems to be comfortable with the more traditional SG song. This is an old Kingsmen song from back in the 1970s. The quartet does the song justice, and bass singer Justin Terry’s standout bass lines on the chorus bring to mind a Jeff Chapman performance.

3. Greater Miracle – This ballad from the pen of Rodney features the group’s baritone, Allen Leath. For some reason, his feature here reminds me of a young Mark Trammell. This song would do well on radio.

4. I’m Going There – This is probably my favorite song on the project. It’s another “convention” style song. Justin Terry shines on the chorus, hitting a low G-flat multiple times after the final key change. I love a good bass, and he doesn’t disappoint here.

5. He’ll Never Forsake – Lead singer Davis McCammon, Jr. steps up on this slow song written by Ricky Atkinson. Nice harmony, but not a song that has me hitting the repeat button.

6. I’ll See You Home – (Former) Tenor Dallas Rogers is featured on this country-style song. Fans of his Dixie Echoes or the Archie Watkins style of singing will enjoy this song.

7. Tell Me Who – The bass singer gets his first true solo feature of the album. He does well in the bluesy style that the song is put in. I compared him earlier to Jeff Chapman, and he sounds even more so on this track.

8. Whenever, Wherever, Whatever – This is another slower song. Once again, nice, but nothing that caught my attention.

9. Take A Little Look – This track continues the traditional vibe of the project, with the bass once again getting standout lines. I like the bluegrass flavor of the tune.

10. Celebrating Resurrection Morning – This song is featured on the music player on the group’s website. A lot of people on different sites have commented on the “fake” string instruments used, but honestly, they’re really not all that distracting.

11. Hallelujah For The Cross – The album closes with another ballad. This is a nice way to end the project, showcasing the group’s ability to carry this type of song as well as they can a convention-style tune.

Final Thoughts – For a major label debut, this project is very, very well-done. This a great lineup of vocalists (although Dallas Rogers left the group recently, his replacement will fit right in.) Keep an eye on the bass singer, Justin Terry; at only 24 years old, he has a bass voice that has the ability to get into Tim Riley territory.

I expect to see these guys on the ballot for Horizon Group Of The Year 2009. Great project.