Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Andrew Greer: Angel Band - The Hymn Sessions Review
When you hear a timeless hymn, what enters your mind? For many, it’s thoughts of the moment we first encountered Christ. For Andrew Greer, respected singer/songwriter, that’s exactly what inspired his latest work Angel Band: The Hymns Sessions. The collaborative album lands Andrew singing duets with many talented vocalists that are some of Andrew’s personal influences, including Sonya Isaacs (from The Isaacs), Ginny Owens, Cindy Morgan, Sandra McCracken and more. This heavenly and inviting album shares through hymns the story of how Andrew found Christ’s love for him and lets the listener experience His love for themselves.
Opening the album with acoustic guitars and tambourines, the mellow “O Come Angel Band” features Sonya Isaacs and Laura Sue Brod. Though the female vocals are not easily audible, the passion of the vocal mix is, and Andrew’s soft vocals (much like Elias Dummer’s from The City Harmonic) are very engaging. “Never Grow Old” takes on more of an upbeat country sound, as the hymn paints a picture of longing for heaven. Regina McCrary (The McCrary Sisters) and Marc Scibilia add very nice backing vocals as well.
Very energetic and upbeat with a bluegrass tempo, “Down by the Riverside” features Julie Lee. Together, the duet covers the African-American spiritual very well, in a fun way. At this point, the listener should definitely be engaging along in worship with the eclectic covers offered through the Angel Band album. “Softly and Tenderly” follows, again a slower cover, but probably the best cover I have heard of this track yet. Sonya Isaacs again lends her backing vocals, making very heavenly harmonies.
“Jesus Paid It All” features the McCrary Sisters, as well as a second verse that Andrew himself wrote for the hymn. Though I didn’t particularly care for this track, you can’t argue that having the McCrary Sisters singing along with Andrew is a great listen. Banjos make up “The Lord’s Prayer,” a classic that was new to me personally, but actually goes back to 1935. This track is very short and sweet.
“In the Garden,” a favorite hymn of mine, is covered nicely in an unexpected swing tempo, keeping the simplicity of the track but adding fun measures here and there. A Fanny Crosby collaboration follows next, “I Am Thine O Lord/Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross.” As Andrew intended it to, it has a quirky touch to it, more on the mellow side and features vocals from Ginny Owens, fittingly.
The only original on the Angel Band project, “I’ve Been Searching,” written by Andrew as a tribute to the Gospel artists that inspire him, again features The McCrary Sisters with their supportive gospel vocals. This track also seems to sum up the reason Andrew recorded this project, showing that we can find what we are all searching for in Jesus. The bluegrass “The Unclouded Day” features Sandra McCracken, and Marc Scibilia again. It’s a fun track, but its lyrics are serious describing our longing to be home with Jesus where we belong.
The 1922 hymn “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus” was very welcome, featuring a new verse written by Andrew and sung by Cindy and her angelic vocals. Acoustic guitar makes up the track, very serene and prepares the album to come to a close. “All Creatures of Our God and King” closes the album, highlighted by the pipe organ played by Andrew’s mom who led him into a life of music in the first place. This worshipful hymn is an excellent closure for the album, as are Andrews vocals – together, simply blissful.
I’m definitely a hymns person. There’s something so timeless and heavenly about them and they always end leaving those listening or singing in an awe of the goodness of God. Angel Band: The Hymns Session by Andrew Greer is an awesome project, to say the least. The eclectic album is heavenly, peaceful, and fun to. If you’re looking for something out of the ordinary and passionate to add to your music library, this is definitely an album you’ll want to check out!
Release date: January 31, 2012
1. O Come Angel Band (feat. Sonya Isaacs and Laura Sue Brad)
2. Never Grow Old (feat. Regina McCrary and Marc Scibilia)
3. Down by the Riverside (feat. Julie Lee)
4. Softly and Tenderly (feat. Sonya Isaacs)
5. Jesus Paid It All (feat. The McCrary Sisters)
6. The Lord’s Prayer (feat. Ron Block)
7. In the Garden
8. I Am Thine O Lord/ Near the Cross (feat. Ginny Owens)
9. I’ve Been Searching (feat. The McCreary Sisters)
10. The Unclouded Day (with Sandra McCracken and Marc Scibilia)
11. Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus (feat. Cindy Morgen)
12. All Creatures of Our God and King