Posted by: coomercove | September 12, 2009

CD Review: Daybreak Quartet – Hymns

Daybreak Quartet – Hymns

A couple of months ago, the Mark Trammell Trio announced the hiring of Joel Wood as their new tenor.  At about the same time as the announcement, Joel’s previous group, the Daybreak Quartet, received their new Hymns project.  In that situation, I could understand being discouraged.  Losing a vocalist the same time as your new CD arrived from the duplicator would be a tough pill to swallow (though it seems to be common in southern gospel music).

However, the Daybreak Quartet used the situation to their advantage by using it to promote their new CD.  For a two week period in July, they allowed visitors to their website to download the entire CD for free in exchange for letting other people know about the offer.  With people wanting to hear the Mark Trammell Trio’s new tenor, I’m sure the offer garnered a lot of interest.  To use a cliché, it was a great example of turning lemons into lemonade.

OK, I got the preliminaries out of the way.  What about the CD itself?  Is it any good?

Short Version…. definitely.

Long version….

The project features the four vocalists (Wood, lead Dennis Fanning, and brothers Jason and Nathan Prisk, baritone and bass respectively) and a piano.  There are no drums, no bass, or any other instrumentation.  Greg Howlett (five tracks, including an instrumental “The Old Rugged Cross”) and Legacy Five’s Tim Parton (six tracks) both provide wonderful tracks.  I tend to judge piano only tracks the same way as accapella singing.  If I don’t notice the lack of other instruments (or music at all), it is good. The playing isn’t flashy or overriding, but it never becomes boring or mundane.

One of the best things the CD has going for it is the song selection.  Daybreak Quartet didn’t just record the standard ten or fifteen songs you’ll hear at least once every month at most baptist churches.  True they did a few overdone songs (including “Mansion Over The Hilltop” and “hey, it started the Gaither Homecoming thing, so we have to record it” -“Where Could I Go?”), but you’ll also find songs like “Constantly Abiding”, “The Lord’s My Shepherd”, “Safe Am I” and “This World Is Not My Home”.

Tim Parton did the tracks for the latter two songs and they standout to me as the project’s two best songs.  Parton also did the wonderful arrangement of “Safe Am I”, including a portion of “He Hideth My Soul”, even though the CD liner notes question all the high notes in the arrangement.  As much as I like “Safe Am I”, “This World Is Not My Home” is my favorite song on the project.  While it isn’t blazing fast, Parton’s bouncy piano work keeps me nodding my head along with the song, even after dozens of listens.

Since the two months the project has been out, it has stayed in my car as one of the CDs in heavy rotation during my daily commute.  I’ve spent more time listening to it than probably any other hymns CD in my collection.  Daybreak Quartet’s Hymns CD is one of my favorite southern gospel hymn/”four guys and a piano” projects that I’ve ever heard.

I skipped the individual star ratings this time, but I give the project four and half stars.

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