The McKameys “What If” Album Review

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Prime Cuts: What If, Your Prayers Have Been Heard, While I Wait

In a recent interview with Hallels, Peg McKamey reveals that they ploughed through over hundreds of songs before narrowing down to these final ten.  Such meticulousness in securing the best songs to record has always been a patented trademark of the McKameys.  While many of their peers have had either disbanded or retired or evolved, the McKameys have been going from strength to strength ever since their debut in 1954.  Hard to believe but "What If" is the celebrated 51st album of this Southern Gospel family group. Released once again on the Horizon/Crossroads label, this effort is by no means is diminutive of its lofty standard the band has had set for over the last sixty years or more.  "What If" finds again the McKameys working with Jim Collins and Roger Fortner, and it features 4 original compositions from Sheryl Ferris (Peg McKamey's daughter).

Before we delve into an exposition of these songs, it's fair first to say a word first about the McKameys.  It all started way back in 1954 in the home of a Christian minister where three of his daughters decided to sing in church one Sunday.  Dora, Peg and Carol McKamey not only caused a stir in their home church, but soon they were attracting the attention of out of town evangelists.  They began singing at revivals which really got the ball rolling.  Despite several configurations in the group's makeup over the years, the McKameys became a tour de force in Southern Gospel music over last six decades.  Not only they have mustered 16 number one records, they average over 150 touring dates a year.

Never given to hemming and hawing when it comes to the perspicuity of the Gospel, the set opens with "I'm Gonna Give It Away," a toe-tapping celebratory ode of how the joyous Gospel of Jesus can never be constrained just to ourselves. Rifled with lots of old fashioned rustic backings such as the mandolin and fiddle linings is the delightful "I'll Give You Grace."  Nevertheless, the songs that pay the most dividends are the narrative-oriented songs. "Your Prayers Have Been Answered" is a prime example of how the McKameys are experts in weaving the Biblical story of Cornelius with a contemporary story illustrating, with great imagination and depth, the prayer answering nature of our God. 

Not to be missed is the beautiful crafted title cut "What If."  Performed with a heartfelt gravitas, "What If" is a piano-ballad aimed at the hearts of those sinking in the mire of regrets and doubts.  If you are in such a predicament, do yourself a favour, and give this song a listen.  Picking up the tempo a little but never easing on the focus on God's goodness and sovereignty is another Sheryl Ferris winner "While I Wait."  Closing the record on the same theme as when it first started is the gritty and bluesy "Work in the Field." Here we are challenged to preserve for the Lord in response to the Gospel. 

With the Gospel and Jesus at the fore over songs that wax creativity, authenticity, and great melodic structures, once again, the McKameys do not disappoint.  When it comes to the great music with strong Biblical messages, there are no what ifs as far as the McKameys are concerned. 



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