Aaron Swain's blog about Southern Gospel Music, News, and other items of interest in the SG world.
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CD Review: Mark Trammell Quartet – Your Walk Talks

February 06, 2014 By: Aaron Category: CD Reviews, Mark Trammell Quartet, SG Artists, SG Music

Rating: 4 starsYourWalkTalks_CD

Label: Crimson Road Productions
Website: www.marktrammellministries.com

Song titles: Don’t Stop Running; God’s Been Faithful; When the King Comes To Claim His Throne;  Thanks to Calvary; I’ll Go Over Jordan Someday; Man of Sorrows; Your Walk Talks; To Know He Knows Me; I’ll Take It To The Grave; I Wouldn’t Have It Any Other Way

The Mark Trammell Quartet has had quite a time since their last release of new songs (Testimony in 2010. They’ve released three projects of mostly older material since). The lineup on Testimony included tenor Joel Wood, lead Dustin Sweatman, baritone Mark Trammell, and bass Pat Barker. During the span from then to now, Wood left and original tenor Eric Phillips rejoined the group. Sweatman came off the road and Mark’s son, Nick, stepped into the role. Phillips then left the road again, and the group was left looking for a tenor. After a trial run, Dustin Black was eventually named as the new guy.

Despite these transitions, the group has not rested on its laurels. This project serves as a debut for two things: a new sound/lineup for the group, and the birth of a new record company in Crimson River Productions.  With stakes as high as these, one would be forgiven for wondering if this project collapses under the weight of its own promise. It does not.

The wait for truly new music from the Mark Trammell Quartet has been long (four years), but worth it. While the better-known projects in the group’s discograpy have been pretty ballad centric, this one only has one such track in “Man of Sorrows.” That is certainly a strong track, but one will probably think of the upbeat songs when recalling this CD. “When The King Comes To Claim His Throne” and “I’ll Take It To The Grave” are two major standouts, one telling of the milennial reign and the other celebrating the joy and peace that we have forever in Christ. On the other end of the tempo scale, “God’s Been Faithful” and “Thanks to Calvary” are worth mentioning. The latter is the George Younce signature, and while it doesn’t stray too far from the original, it is a fitting tribute in the context of the recent Cathedral Family Reunion.

I have alluded to the “new sound” that debuts with this project, and that’s one of the reasons I appreciate this release. The difference is most evident with the tenor part. Though no one could truly duplicate the sound the group had with Eric Phillips, Joel Wood was a hire that had a similar tone, so the group’s sound never really wavered from what it used to be. Dustin Black, on the other hand, is another matter entirely. Phillips made the MTT/MTQ unique because of his through-the-roof notes and consistently high harmonies; Black makes them unique by having a different sound from any tenor on the road, and while he is not as stratospherical as Phillips, his blend with the group is smoother. His feature at the end of the project, “I Wouldn’t Have It Any Other Way,” is a perfect showcase of this, though “I’ll Take It To The Grave” sounds like one they would have done with Phillips.

MTQ continues their line of strong song choices and a recognizable sound with Your Walk Talks, and this will undoubtedly be seen as one of the best quartet releases in 2014. It receives 4 stars.

MTQ Blog Tour Stop #4: Pat Barker

January 15, 2014 By: Aaron Category: Mark Trammell Quartet, SG Artists, SG Music

ywtblogtour_fbcoverpatThe Mark Trammell Quartet has quickly become one of the finer quartets in this genre of music, with a journey that began before they added a bass singer. I started paying attention when they released the Once Upon A Cross as a trio, and I have continued to appreciate their strong song choices and their ability to hold that standard even through personnel changes.

I got the chance to catch up with the bass singer for the quartet, Pat Barker, and ask him about the group’s latest effort:

Aaron Swain: What is your favorite song from “Your Walk Talks,” and why?

Pat Barker: My favorite song is “Your Walk Talks.” I was on the Alaska cruise when Rodney (Griffin) and Babbie (Mason) went into the piano bar and wrote that song. They came out to the table and immediately pitched it to Mark. I loved the hook from the beginning and the arrangement is perfect. Mark does a perfect job on the solo, even throwing in a little Jake Hess just for fun.

AS: “Thanks To Calvary” was a signature song for George Younce, and your admiration for him is no secret. What went into the decision to include that song?

PB: “Thanks to Calvary” is a “George” song, no doubt. He is the greatest, and will always be the greatest.

I have had the honor of doing Remember the Music concerts along with Glenn Dustin and Matt Fouch the last few years. It has been a dream come true. More recently, I got to be a part of the Cathedral Family Reunion. At a RTM concert, someone in the audience requested “Thanks to Calvary.” I had never sung it, but I knew the song. Something special happened, and we literally didn’t know what to do next. It became a permanent fixture at the RTM concerts, and was added to the CFR concert as well. Gerald Wolfe was the one who suggested that we put it on the album. My testimony is the story in that song, so it is an easy one to sing. I love that song.

AS: Other than Mark Trammell, you are the only member that has been with the group from the beginning of their “quartet” days. With the other two parts changing over this time period, how do you think the sound has evolved, and do you feel that the change is reflected with this project?

PB: Lots of things have changed. Losing (Dustin) Sweatman was a tough loss. He brought a lot to the table with his piano skills and his ability to win the crowd over. He was also a big help in the studio and picking songs. I still miss having a piano on stage, but Nick (Trammell) has taken over beautifully on lead. He is also a great songwriter, which shows up on this new album.

With the loss of Eric (Phillips), we not only lost an incredible tenor, but I lost my buddy. We bonded very quickly, and that relationship continues, but not as much as I would like. When Dustin (Black) came on board, I knew it would be a challenge for him. I could not be prouder of someone musically than I am of him. There is no other tenor that he sounds like, and I, for one, welcome the change. His solo at the end of the project is one of my favorite cuts.

Thanks, Pat, for a great interview!

I’ll echo Pat’s sentiment about “Your Walk Talks.” At first listen, it just sounds like a bouncy little ditty, but there are very true and applicable lyrics in such a fun song. Another that has taken up residence on my “most played” list is “I’ll Take It To The Grave.” The team of Rebecca J. Peck and Dianne Wilkinson penned a great song with that one, and I’m glad to see it get a fine quartet treatment.

Head over to Musicscribe for the next stop on the MTQ blog tour as Diana Brantley interviews Dustin Black!