Down East Boys “Beyond the Blue” Album Review

Down East Boys

Prime Cuts: Holy All Over Again, I Left My Past in the Past, If I Know Him

Victorian preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon was quoted to say, "When you speak of heaven, let your face light up... when you speak of hell, your everyday face will do."  When Down East Boys sing of heaven in the title track of their brand new Sonlite Records release "Beyond the Blue," the speakers light up.  Embedded with so much gusto and verve both in the vocal and backing departments, heaven has never been more stunningly alluring.  Though Southern Gospel music is saturated with an overflow of quartet singers, Down East Boys has a dynamic panache that you don't hear too often.  On "Beyond the Blue" they have packed each and every song with a Godly punch.  While producer Roger Talley has flourished the record with a full western big band sound making these 10 songs sound lavishly worshipful.

The Down East Boys started in the mid-1980s, singing throughout the eastern Carolina coast. In 1989, Chris White signed them to their first national recording contract, with Sonlite Records. That same year, they recorded their first national hit, "Beautiful Valley." In 1991, they received their first Singing News Fan Award, for Horizon Artist.  After a 20 year break, the Down East Boys returned to Sonlite Records in 2009.  "Beyond the Blue" is the follow-up record to their highly successful predecessor "Amen," an album that features many fan favorites such as "I Won't Trade My Crown" and "Under the Blood." 

"Beyond the Blue" kicks off with the patented Down East Boys sound.  On the title cut "Beyond the Blue," the sophisticated blast of blaring brass and the rustic soars of frenzied sounding banjos conterminously bring out the joy of our eternal hope.  Current single "Holy All Over Again," written by Sue C. Smith and Joseph Habedank, draws us into two of the Bible's most glorious chapters in Revelation 4 and 5 where we find ourselves worshipping at the throne of King Jesus.   Never ones to kowtow to wimpy theology, "I Left My Past in the Past" finds the foursome unanimously proclaiming with bold affirmations the finished work of Christ's redemption and forgiveness on this stately anthem. 

Joseph Habedank (formerly with the Perrys) shows up again as the co-writer with Rodney Griffin on the ultra catchy single "If I Know Him."  Featuring a shuffling country groove with lots of fiddles and banjos, "If I Know Him" has "hit" stamped all across it.  Back to back "The First Day for Me" and "Hay Baby" give expositions to two of the most important seasons in the Christian calendar: Easter and Christmas.  The former "The First Day for Me" re-tells the Biblical narrative of the crucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus Christ with 21st Century sensibilities.  "Hay Baby" (which strangely reminds one of Hank Williams Sr's "Hey Good Looking") is not a spelling misnomer for "Hey Baby."  Rather, it is a reference to the baby Jesus lying in the hay.

If you like good Gospel music solid in its theological convictions performed well by layered harmonies that sing with Godly passion over a western big band sound, look no farther than Down East Boys' "Beyond the Blue."



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