Photograph used with permission.
17th Avenue Revival
The Oak Ridge Boys
2018 - Lightning Rod Records. When I first heard that the Oak Ridge Boys were releasing a new album, I became excited to hear what the boys would entertain us with next. Nonetheless, when I heard that they were releasing a Gospel album, my anticipation faltered. Through the years, the Oaks have entertained us with a wide variety of Gospel songs and albums. Their faith is vast and they communicate it through their music. However, when you hear the same Gospel tunes over and over, one can become annoyed to the point of exasperated. Perhaps my faltered faith in the Oaks has eluded me. The one thing that I have to accept with Duane, Joe, William Lee, and Richard is the fact that they will always keep this reviewer guessing. This album is not your typical Gospel album; it is undoubtedly a tapestry of exhilarating and motivating songs. What makes this album stand out even more is the way the boys formulated and shaped the record. Each of the songs is recorded in a Jerry Lee Lewis-esque, Rock-n-roll, old-time southern revival style and experience. The record opens with “Brand New Star (Up In Heaven Tonight).” Performed in a feel-good revival mentality, this song celebrates the life of a lost loved one. The personality of this song is very reminiscent of a traditional New Orleans style funeral. The boys include a couple of public domain songs with “Walk In Jerusalem” and “Where He Leads Me I Will Follow.” I have a few minor grievances, in which most are over the tempos of a couple songs. Nonetheless, as a Christian I question the lyrics found in “God’s Got It.” In this song it states, “If it’s money, God’s got it; God’s got everything you need…” One can argue that God really does not have need for monetary gain. However, I will acknowledge that in today’s society some people need a shred of hope to get them through their darkest hours; even if that hope revolves around currency. Other songs include “I’d Rather Have Jesus” and “Let It Shine On Me.” Two of the songs stand out among the others. “Pray To Jesus” was written by Brandy Clark and Shane McAnally and was originally recorded by Brandy on her Live From Los Angeles album. Performed in a Statler Brother’s mentality, it is the Oak Ridge Boys version that comes alive with their effervescent and tight harmonies. The second song to seek was one written by Vince Gill and Ashley Monroe called “If I Die.” Vince’s recording of this well crafted song is quite stunning; but the Oak Ridge Boys bring a bit more authenticity to this traditional country Gospel tune. We would have nominated both of these songs for the Spirit Award’s Song of The Year Award; however, they are classified as cover songs. All the same, these two songs are authentically recorded and should be obtained. Nonetheless, we have nominated “Brand New Star (Up In Heaven Tonight)” for the Spirit Award’s Song of The Year category. This album draws together a variety of styles to share with you a message of hope, inspiration and encouragement in an amusing way. Most of all it reminds us to never categorize The Oak Ridge Boys as they will always dazzle us with their vast array of talents and professionalism. $$$$+
(© Strictly Country Magazine - May / June 2018.)
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