The Kingsmen “Battle Cry” Album Review
Prime Cuts: I've Never Seen the Righteous Forsaken, Here I Stand Amazed, It Should Have Rained
The music of Kingsmen is the default template that many Southern Gospel quartets have adopted over the years. Almost every quartet these days will find traces of their sound going back to the Kingsmen. Their tight four-part abstemious harmonies, their Scripture-soaked Cross-centered lyrics, and the way they approach each and every song they record with verve and panache are some of the ingredients that make this quartet a national icon. Since 1956 from the western mountains of North Carolina, the Kingsmen has had been making music for the Lord. Countless renowned artists have been a part of this great lineage; such as Eldridge Fox, "Big" Jim Hamill, Ray Dean Reese, Squire Parsons, Johnny Parrack, Anthony Burger, Ernie Phillips, Gary Sheppard, and a host of others. The momentum has not stopped as this group continues to help define the Southern Gospel genre for a whole new generation of music lovers.
Following on the heels of last year's live album "Front Row Live," the Kingsmen are back for another studio effort recorded under the auspicious eye of producer Jeff Collins. Currently, Kingsmen consists of 2008 hall of fame inductee, Ray Dean Reese, his son Brandon Reese, Randy Crawford, Bob Sellers, and Chris Jenkins. "Battle Cry," like most of their releases, comprises of covers as well as originals, which even includes songs written by the team members. Never disappointing longtime fans, the record opens with the title cut "Battle Cry" which features the band's full-fledged riant voices in glorious display on a song that embeds within its lyrics words from the hymn "Battle Hymn of the Republic." Powerful, engaging and Spirit-filled, the song makes us glad to be drafted into the Lord's army.
"Oh Yes I Am," their highest debut single from a new album in the last ten years, debuted not long ago on the "Singing News Radio Airplay Chart" at #21. Re-telling Jesus' parable about Lazarus and the Rich man with creative strokes, this swampy country blues burner has much to thank its writer Regina Walden for. Also lifted from the pages of Holy Writ, this time from Psalm 37:25 is the upbeat faith affirming "I've Never Seen the Righteous Forsaken." Set to a toe-tapping propulsive country melody with some stellar guitar work from Jeremy Medkiff, "Come and Dine" puts into song with vivid imagination the account of Jesus post-resurrection encounter with the disciples as found in John 21.
Nevertheless, those who love the ballads done the Kingsmen's style are in for a treat again. Rusty Golden of the dysfunctional 90s country duo fame The Goldens and Southern Gospel's scribal champ Dianne Wilkinson have written a winner in "It Should Have Rained." Though tethering on the maudlin, "It Should Have Rained" focused on how the angels reacted seeing the Son of God on the Cross. "Cross of Grace," a little on the obligatory side, continues on in the same trajectory. While band member Randy Crawford pens the album closer "Here I Stand Amazed" with seismic effect as all the voices come together for a grand and glorious finale. Thus, when the Kingsmen raises their voices in battle cry, it's hard not to take notice.
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