Aaron Swain's blog about Southern Gospel Music, News, and other items of interest in the SG world.

CD Review: The Mike LeFevre Quartet – Nothin’ But Good

September 26, 2008 By: Aaron Category: CD Reviews, SG Artists, SG Music, The Mike LeFevre Quartet

Rating: 4.5 stars

Label: Canaan Records
Producer: Jason Webb
Website: www.mikelefevrequartet.com

1. Let Me Tell You ‘Bout Jesus – The album opens up with a throwback to the original LeFevres. The guys reach back in the vault and take this old Alphus LeFevre song from back in their days as the Alphus LeFevre Singers and update it, making it sound like it belongs in modern SG. Great track, and a great tribute to Mike LeFevre’s heritage.

2. Didn’t It Rain – The guys do another old song, this time an old spiritual from 1938 by the Golden Gate Quartet. This is not the Dove Brothers’ “Didn’t It Rain,” rather, it’s another song entirely. The group updates this song as well, and they do a great job pulling off this type of song.

3. Take My Life – The first slow song of the album opens with a string orchestra, then segues into light piano accompaniment. Mike LeFevre’s smooth baritone sings the first verse, then the chorus comes in. After lead singer David Staton’s second verse feature, the song builds to a great finish. This powerful track would do very well as a radio single.

4. Glorious – A Praise & Worship song is generally not well-recieved by the average SG fan, but it’s another style that this group can pull off with great effect. Their previous material has included this type of song (“Days Of Elijah” from their debut release, as well as their entire Total Praise album), and it’s a sound that really fits the vocalists that make up this quartet. One of my personal favorites of the project.

5. Big Mighty God – The group’s current radio single employs a modern country sound. Great harmony is distributed throughout the song, making it a great inclusion to the project.

6. Last One Worthy – Another slow song, this one has the country feel as well, and it is bass singer Stacy Bragg’s only feature of the album. Bragg’s voice is very well-made for a solo feature, and I like this track better the more that I hear it.

7. You Thought Of Us – David Staton is featured once again on another slow, powerful song. This song has been the subject of some discussion lately over at Burke’s Brainwork, because there is some distortion on the chorus. I can’t put it any better than Wes did here:

“On the chorus to “You Thought Of Us”, there is some major distortion going on. I heard it on my car stereo, and also on my headphones here at work…. It almost sounds like the music is overdriving the speakers, like the CD was produced with the input levels turned up way too high. I also hear the distortion on the songs “Take My Life” and “Didn’t It Rain”, but it isn’t quite as bad as what “You Thought Of Us” is distorted….”

While I didn’t hear the distortion on the other two tracks mentioned, I do agree that it shows up here. Very obviously. Which is a shame; this song is great, with powerful lyrics and great accompaniment, but the distortion lessens the power just a bit.

8. Nothin’ But Good – The title track once again leans toward a modern country flavor. This kind of reminds me of something right off of a recent Dove Brothers project.

9. It’s Time To Sing – One of my favorites on this project, this collaboration from the pens of tenor Gus Gaches and lead David Staton has some TIGHT harmony. Bragg produces some rocking low bass throughout most of the song, and the piano break is none too shabby either!

10. You’re Never Too Far Away – Tenor Gus Gaches gets his only feature of the project this time around. Gaches has a voice that is crafted to deliver a beautiful slow tune like this one, and he doesn’t disappoint on this track.

11. Jesus Saves – The project closes with yet another great ballad. The quartet sings in unison throughout the first part of the song, and then a choir backs them up as they break into parts for a great finish. Smart move to include the choir, as it only adds to the great finale that the song provides to close the album.

Final Thoughts: By far, one of my favorite projects of 2008. The Mike LeFevre Quartet has really hit their stride with this release. I’ve heard bits and pieces of their first two projects, but was not really impressed. And when I read the announcement that the group had been picked up by Canaan Records, I hoped that the execs knew what they were doing.

As it turns out, the move is the best thing that could have happened to them. Producer Jason Webb does a great job bringing out the strengths of each vocalist and producing a blend that the other groups out there dream of having. The lineup of tenor Gus Gaches, lead David Staton, baritone Mike LeFevre, and bass Stacy Bragg have super-tight harmony throughout the project, and do a great job of mixing both the old and the new in their material.

Let me stop here to say that I have talked to alot of people that are not fans of Stacy Bragg, saying he does not blend well with the group at all and is the weak link of the group. I implore these people to listen to this project. Like I said, Webb played on the strengths of every vocalist, including Bragg, erasing any skepticism I had of him. Bragg blends great with the other guys, does a great job on his solo, and provides a solid bass foundation for the arrangements. I’m of the opinion after listening to this project that he is one of the most underrated basses in SG today, having improved leaps and bounds since I last heard him on the other two projects.

My only real complaint is the distortion I heard on that one track. That is the only thing holding me back from giving this project a 5-star rating. Distortion killed the sound of “You Thought Of Us,” and I hope the group can avoid letting that creep in to their future releases.

If The Mike LeFevre Quartet continues in the vein of this project, there’s big things in store for them. I urge you to buy this project for yourself.

Next Review: Soul’d Out Quartet – Ain’t Nobody