Goodman Revival “Song in the Key of Happy” Album Review

goodman revival

Prime Cuts: Eyes of Jesus, Look for Me, This is Just What Heaven Means to Me

"Songs in the Key of Happy" is the soundtrack for our blessed hope.  If you feel dreaded by life's disappointments and you want a song to do just more than a transient pick me up, this is the album to put on.  Rifled with paeans with shafts that penetrate deep into the deserts of our soul, these songs are like more than just "feel-gooders."  Rather, they refresh our souls with an everlasting hope anchored in Jesus set to tunes that will get us tapping our feet and singing along to in no time.  These songs remind us that regardless of the wants in life, nothing satisfies as much as the pearl of the greatest price.  They remind us that despite how the glitz and the glamour of this life may dazzle, they pale in comparison to the superlative splendor of heaven. 

And if these songs sound familiar, it's because the bulk of this canon are brand new takes of the songs recorded by the Happy Goodmans.  The Happy Goodmans are a treasured national icon: ever since its inauguration in the 1940s, this family group has had been a mainstay in servicing Gospel radio, churches and homes with songs that exalt the name of Jesus.  To navigate the success of the Goodman family over the years, it's important to note that they were so successful that the Grammys had to award the family the first award for a Gospel album by a Gospel group in 1968.  And the Goodmans went on to win the same award in 1978.  When the GMA Dove Awards in 1969, Vestal Goodman became the first Female Vocalist of the Year for the 1969 Dove Awards; she set a standard that few can reach for that category. The Goodmans were remembered year after year when it came time to nominate for awards.

All these years later, Tanya Goodman Sykes, her husband, acclaimed producer Michael Sykes, and friend Johnny Minick, a gospel music veteran who performed for years with the Goodmans, once again propel the family name into the spotlight.  Partnering with Gaither Gospel Music, they have revived some of the Goodman classics with "Songs in the Key of Happy."  The first thing to note about the record is that Tanya has a voice that permeates through to our hearts with her seasoned nuances.  When she sings about heaven in the piano-clad ballad "This is Just What Heaven Means to Me" you can feel the heavenly streets lights brighten up and the pavement of gold glisten with a 3-D effect.  And she's just as moving on the similarly-themed "Look for Me" without giving in to any hint of mawkishness.  And when the trio come together, they re-ignite the family-sounding harmonies glowingly on the more traditional Gospel sounding "I Hold a Clear Title to a Mansion."

Though our blessed hope (i.e., heaven) is a pervasive theme across many of the songs, they do delve into our subjects too.  "Eyes of Jesus" is a prime example why the Goodmans were such a mainstay in Gospel music.  The song expounds not only the words of Jesus that sparrows never escape his watchful eye, but it also challenges us that since Jesus watches over us so vigilantly, we shouldn't break our Savior's heart by deliberating sinning against Him.  Lead single "What a Happy Time" picks up the beat to an infectious groove awash with some soul-stirring dobro and steel. "Settle the Score," a newly written song by Johnny Minick and Tim Hill, continues this tradition of sublime writing as it gives fresh and scintillating exposition to the story of David and Goliath.

"Songs in the Key of Happy" not only does the back catalog of the Goodmans proud, but they also updated their songs with a fresh 21st century vigor, passion and Godliness that is alluring.  And most important they draw us to the Savior who is the one who can truly make us happy.  



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