Brian Free & Assurance "Never Walk Alone" CD Review
(by John DeGroff)
When I first received my advance copy of Brian Free and Assurance's "Never Walk Alone", I read the press release that accompanied it, but didn't have time just then to listen to the actual music.
Now I have to admit that Southern Gospel is not a genre' I'm very familiar with. The only quartet type group I've ever really listened to is the Cathedral Quartet. They used to come to the church I went to in Fort Wayne, Indiana on a regular basis. Plus, my dad really liked them and had a lot of their music.
So getting a review copy of a Southern Gospel quartet took me by surprise. But Brian Free and Assurance is most definitely not my father's gospel quartet. Besides Free, who sings tenor, the other members are Bill Shiver, lead; Derrick Selph, baritone; and Jeremy Lile, bass. Maybe I need to start listening to Southern Gospel more; the music on this project touches on several different genres.
Opening track "Anything Is Possible" is very radio friendly. Musically, it's one of the project's stand out tracks, sounding kind of like a hybrid of country, pop, and very tight quartet harmony. "
"I Believe" follows, and is a bit of a surprise in that it's the type of song that any good vocal group or soloist from any genre' could put their personal stamp on and make work.
A song about exactly what's in scripture, the chorus gets right to the point:
"I believe every line, every word
I believer story I've heard
Written on the pages is the truth of the ages
And it changes me..."
Other tunes on "Never Walk Alone" that seem to cross genres, or could work in more than one context before different audiences, are:"God Will Close The Door"; "Stand Among The Millions"; and "It's Gotta Be God".
"God Will Close The Door", featuring bass Jeremy Lile, was a tune I didn't expect to hear-southern country funk with a horn section. Very good vocal interplay on a song about the flood.
"Stand Among The Millions" is almost an anthem. This one tune probably has the overall best production values on the project.
"It's Gotta Be God"-now this I definitely didn't expect to hear, it's rock, on a gospel quartet album no less, but yes...it's rock. Any number of current Christian rock bands could make this song work as well. Being a rocker anyhow, I have to say that this is my personal favorite, and I feel releasing it as a single would see some cross-over chart action.
The title track, "Never Walk Alone", closes the album. Very powerful, and in the press release I received, it was mentioned that this one song has special meaning for Free because of the recent passing of his father. Give it a listen and you'll understand. It's also the first single from the project.
I believe "Never Walk Alone" is Brian Free and Assurance's 21st album...not sure on that. Nonetheless, it's the type of work that will keep Southern Gospel quartet harmony vibrant in the 21st century. Although I received no information listing producer, songwriters, or musicians, all those involved should be proud. Brian Free and Assurance will always be assured an audience.
And personally, I wish my own father were still around to hear this album. I know he'd love it.
Please check out www.brianfreeandassurance.com