N’Harmony – Favorites
- Step Into The Water **** – N’Harmony re-introduces themselves with this slightly updated version of the Cathedral hit. Bass singer Will Van Wyngarden gets the group’s first solo. The one part that sticks out to me is the first line of the final chorus. In the line, “Come on and step into the water,” the word water is drawn out. It is different, not bad, but different. I’m so familiar with the Cathedral version that the word still throws me after several dozen listens. The track is a very good, and safe, introduction.
- Old Time Religion **** – This is a “four guys and a piano” arrangement that gives all four vocalists a turn in the spotlight. This track is enjoyable, but not spectacular.
- The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power ****– Baritone Chris Whitaker gets the solos on the verses, while Shane Dunlap has the lead on the choruses. Both provide solid vocals, but like most arrangements of the song that I’ve heard, it lacks the punch I feel it deserves.
- He Loves Me ***** – Now, this is spectacular. I recommend this project for this song alone. Brent Mitchell absolutely tears this song up. He does this not with acrobatic singing, but with the wonderful delivery of the song’s simple, beautiful message. By far, this is the best track on the project.
- Run On *** – Shane Dunlap is featured on this bluegrass-flavored song. I’m okay with a lot of the country sound coming into southern gospel, but not bluegrass. If you enjoy bluegrass, you’ll probably enjoy this song a lot more than I did.
- It Is Well **** – Chris Whitaker is featured on another ballad. He solos the first verse, chorus, and second verse before the other vocalists join in.
- I Can See The Hand **** – I have always enjoyed this Cathedral song and I really like this updated arrangement. I’m struggling to put this into words, but this cut has the oomph that the Cathedrals version lacked. Brent Mitchell again shows why he is one of my favorite tenors in southern gospel music.
- Lord Feed Your Children **** – This is Shane Dunlap’s best vocal on the project and may be the only song on the project that really shows how good a singer he is. Hopefully, the group’s next project will feature him more.
- Life Will Be Sweeter **** – This is another “four guys and a piano” arrangement. This is a very fun song, but definitely not the strongest song on the project.
- Beulah Land **** – The project closes with an a capella chorus. I believe the arrangement is taken from N’Harmony’s own Tribute project. It is a little strange that they only recorded the chorus. The previous version included a verse and another chorus.
Let me be up front and say that I can’t help but compare this group to Mercy’s Mark. With Shane Dunlap’s connection to Garry Jones via Signature Sound, Brent Mitchell singing tenor, and the song selection (Mercy’s Mark performed at least six of the ten songs), I have a hard time not thinking of this N’Harmony as an offshoot of Mercy’s Mark. With that in my mind, N’Harmony’s Favorites is a good project, but to be honest, Mercy’s Mark didn’t just do “good”. From the start and especially at the end, they were phenomenal. It is unfair to expect a group’s debut, especially when it is a “budget” project of cover songs, to compare favorably to a group whose star shined so bright (even though it burnt out quickly…twice). Still, I have a hard time not doing so.
Favorites is a very solid project. I rated eight of the ten songs four stars, but several of those could have dropped to 3.5. I gave it a total of 40 stars for a 4.0 average. I actually want to like the project a lot more than I do. I expect this to be a great sounding group, but this project just doesn’t convey that. I know that these guys will release much better projects in the future, but this is good beginning. I’ll call this a four star project overall.