Prime Cuts: A Soldier Fighting to Go Home, It's Good to See the Sun, Thank You For Saving Me
Every release Ernie Haase and Signature Sound put out is an event in itself. When you purchase their CD or their download, you know you are getting more than just a collection of songs. What you get is an experience of the Christian life coming to life through top-class showmanship, smart reboots of old classics, rich harmony-layered vocals, and that those Vegas-style flash of jackets minus those rhinestone boots. "Happy People" is no exception. It's classy in its execution, heartfelt in its vocal nuances, and downright gorgeous as far as the songs go. Founded in 2002 by Ernie Haase, former Cathedral Quartet tenor, and Garry Jones, former Gold City pianist. In 2012, it consists of Doug Anderson (baritone), Devin McGlamery (lead), Paul Harkey (bass) and Ernie Haase (tenor). The band has released 23 albums and 9 DVDs.
"Happy People," released under Haase and Wayne Haun's StowTown Records imprint, is the quartet's follow-up to last year's "Oh What a Savior." Easily the buzz song on this new set is "A Soldier Fighting to Go Home." Functioning very much like John Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress," "A Soldier Fighting to Go Home" functions on two narrative levels. On one hand, one could read this story-ballad as a well-worn soldier who is at the brim of his duties' end waiting for the roll call home. Yet, on another level, it's the story of you and me, bruised by the carnage of life's battles awaiting the "well done, my servant" welcome by the Master. With the song's soaring melody trumping on its palatable images, no wonder this was the trophy song from the 2011 Singing News/Solid Gospel Songwriters contest.
Mike Farren and Greg Skyes' "Thank You For Saving Me" captures the best of the contemporary and the traditional Southern Gospel sounds. Starting like a contemporary worship ballad before the four-part harmony come into full display, listening to how McGlamery displays his full vocal range is itself worth the price of this CD. "It's Good to See the Sun," a re-recording of a vintage tune from one of their tabled projects, takes on a slow and languid pace. The mournful sounding harmonica creates an elegiac feeling that is quite soul-searching. Speaking of old fashioned swinging jazzy excursions, the old Gospel nugget "One of These Mornings" is candy to the ears with lots of electrifying brassy horns to boot.
Noticeable as a burgeoning trend in Ernie Haase and Signature Sound's albums of late is the inclusion of a Bible story-based song. This time Joshua gets the treatment with the delightful "Joshua Led God's Children." Of caution though is the title cut "Happy People." Though the word "happy" is a Bible word, but with Pharrell Williams' ubiquitous hit "Happy," the titular has been watered down to its most trivial denomination. And "Happy People" just isn't the treatise to rectify such a frivolity and it doesn't. Nevertheless, this album is still an event; an experience not to be missed.
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