Title: "Thank God For A Song"
Description: Palmetto State Quartet
Chadley - August 12, 2007 12:42 AM (GMT)
Group Name: Palmetto State Quartet
Album Title: “Thank God For A Song”
1. Reach For The Sky
2. Beautiful Shining Happy Golden Shore
3. He’s The Anchor Of My Soul
4. Love Is The Reason
5. Hope’s Harbor
6. It Only Takes One
7. In The Land Of The Free
8. Gone Fishin’
9. Thank God For A Song
10. I’ve Got It
The Palmetto State Quartet is one of the oldest quartets in Southern Gospel music today, having been formed in 1946. The group has gone through a number of personnel changes in the past year, but now seems to have found a firm lineup. Current group members include: Kerry Beatty (lead/group owner), Rick Fair (baritone), Burman Porter (bass), Wesley Smith (tenor), and Bryan Elliott (pianist).
“Thank God For A Song” is the group’s latest album, and it is the second one featuring the current cast of vocalists. The cover art seems to have a western theme to it, with all the group members dressed in jeans or slacks and cowboy boots. Inside the cover, you will find the song credits and individual pictures of the group members. However, you will not find the song lyrics.
Now, let’s take a look at each of the songs on the album.
Starting things off is an upbeat, moderately progressive song entitled “Reach For The Sky”. Burman Porter has some bass features and does the solos on the verses. I haven’t heard him sing since he left the Dove Brothers, but his voice is as rich as ever. The chorus of the song features a very prominent tenor part. This was my first opportunity to hear Wesley Smith, and he apparently has a very high tenor range. However, I have to wonder if he wasn’t pushing his range just a bit on this song. Still, this was one of my favorite songs from this album. The second song is a medium-tempo number in more of the traditional style that Palmetto State is known for. “Beautiful Shining Happy Golden Shore” shows off the group’s blend as, with the exception of a few small bass solo licks, everyone sings together throughout the entire song. The blend isn’t as tight as it could be, but that can be forgiven somewhat due to the short amount of time this particular lineup has had the chance to sing together.
“He’s The Anchor Of My Soul” is the third song, and it’s one that is a familiar up-tempo classic in Southern Gospel Music. It’s pretty much the standard quartet-style song that Palmetto State is known for, and it’s a solid cut for this album. The tempo then slows down for the first slower ballad of the album. Wesley Smith is featured on “Love Is The Reason”. He’s a pretty good tenor who has clear tones. However, he sometimes sounds a bit “pinched” or nasal in his lower range. It seems that he opens up more and has more of a full-voiced sound the higher he goes in his range. However, he still does a very good job interpreting this ballad, and his vocals are a big part of what puts this song on my list of favorites from this album.
Song #5 is a medium-tempo number entitled “Hope’s Harbor”. Once again the group sings this entire song together, with the blend being about the same as it is on the other songs. This song has more of a progressive feel to it that I think most listeners will enjoy, even thought it’s not one of my favorite cuts. This leads into Song #6, an up-tempo, moderately progressive number called “It Only Takes One”. Kerry Beatty is featured here, and it reminds me once again that he is actually one of the better lead singers in Southern Gospel. If anyone could be classified as “underrated”, it would be Kerry Beatty. I would put this song on my list of favorites from this album.
The next song slows the tempo down considerably. “In The Land Of The Free” is a patriotic power ballad that features Rick Fair on lead vocals, and I think the group blends better on this song that on any other song on this album. If you are familiar with Rick’s voice, you know that he is a deep, lower-range baritone with a very full, rich voice. He is a joy to listen to here, forcing me to add this song to my favorites list. Song #8 is another up-tempo, moderately progressive cut entitled “Gone Fishin’”. This is another song that, honestly, isn’t one of my favorites. However, I think that it’s one that most other listeners will like.
The ninth song, the album’s title song, is a slower ballad called “Thank God For A Song”. This is another song that goes back to more of the traditional sound that Palmetto State is known for, and their blend is a bit tighter here because of it. The album ends on an up-tempo song called “I’ve Got It”. If it were me, I would put this song in the 9th position and ended with “Thank God For A Song”. However, that doesn’t mean that this is a bad song in anyway. It’s not exactly traditional Southern Gospel, but it’s not exactly progressive either.
I have had the opportunity to hear several Palmetto State projects over the course of the last several years. Is this the best of them? No, it isn’t. A bit more care could have gone into choosing a couple of the songs, for one thing. Also, the current group lineup hasn’t had the time together to “gel” like they should, causing the blend to be a bit loose throughout the entire album. I would caution them to not keep their tenor singer “up in the rafters” too much lest his voice suffer. On the positive side, however, Palmetto State is showing itself brave enough to try some new things on this album. Some would say that this particular album lacks a solid “direction” and seems to swing back and forth from a more traditional style to a somewhat more progressive style than is normal for the group. I would agree with those people. However, most of those people see this as a weakness of this album. I, however, would not agree with that. It’s obvious that, with the recent personnel changes in the group and the direction in which Southern Gospel seems to be headed, Palmetto State is trying to redefine who they are as a group. Therefore, putting out an album with a mix of older and newer styles is a way of trying their hand at some newer things while not totally abandoning what they’ve been known for up to this point. Every group puts out what I call a “transitional album” at least once in their careers, and I think this is that album for Palmetto State. I will say, though, that their next album needs to have that firm “direction” that people look for. Finally, I would say that the group is solid at all four vocal positions. All that is needed is more time and practice together to smooth out the blend.
If the current lineup can stay together, practice, and “gel”, I think that Palmetto State will be a very solid group in the years to come. I have been a Palmetto State fan for a while now, and I would like nothing better than for this very thing to happen. Overall, I would give this album a solid rating of 7 out of 10 microphones.
Personal Favorites: “Reach For The Sky”, “Love Is The Reason”, “It Only Takes One” and “In The Land Of The Free”
* Hosted for free by InvisionFree