Welcome to July and a whole new slate of new reviews. This month, we feature a group who just attained their very first No. 1 song, a group with their first national release and a Country Gospel artist who is releasing his best album yet. This month we feature the Hyssongs, Judith Montgomery and Family, and Kirby Stailey. Remember, if you like the reviews, get the CD wherever you get good gospel music.
Please send your latest releases for review to Randall Hamm, c/o Q-100 WFLQ-FM, P.O. Box 100, French Lick, IN 47432.
“Still Moving Mountains”
Producer: Shane Roark
2017 Chapel Valley
Songs: “I Happen To Know” (Rodney Griffin, Scott Inman, BMI); “He Still Moves Mountains For Me” (Shane Roark, BMI); “God Has Always Been Good” (Val Dacus, BMI); “I Tell Them Jesus” (Shane Roark, MBI); “Behind The Scenes” (Rebecca J. Peck, Kenna West, BMI); “God I Need A Miracle” (Amber Maxwell, Thomas Peck, BMI); “Step Out Of The Boat” (Amber Maxwell, BMI); “Sweet Beulah Land” (Squire Parsons, BMI); “I’ve Seen Enough” (Karen Gillespie, Matthew Lawson, BMI); “Sheltered In The Arms Of God” (Jimmie Davis, Dottie Rambo, BMI); “Help Me Not To Fall” (Shane Roark, BMI)
The Hyssongs, comprised of the husband/wife tandem of Del and Susan Hyssong, and their son Richard Hyssong, have released what is their best project to date. I have known this family since 2007, since my first visit to Christmas in the Smokies. And according to Richard, I was one of the first DJs to play their music, when they were as yet almost unknowns in the industry.
As I have played their material over the years, I have watched their family grow in the industry, and I have watched Richard’s family grow in size, from almost a newlywed in 2007 to a loving family with two children today.
With their latest project – “Still Moving Mountains” – I see an almost constant theme of faith … that God will move mountains, hold our hand and be with us when we step out of the safety net and answer our prayer when we’re needing a miracle.
One of the strongest songs is “I Tell Them, Jesus.” According to Richard, it’s what he tells folks regarding how he gets through trials. People always ask him, “How do you get through a daughter being diagnosed with a number of tumors and the many trials that you face or have faced over the years?” Richard says simply, “I tell them Jesus.” He’s the answer, the only answer and the answer that solves any problem. I must stop to say that this song from the pen of Shane Roark is quite possibly the best he has written and may be a Dove-nominated song next year. This will be the Hyssongs’ follow-up to their current single “Let The Hallelujahs Ring.”
“He Still Moves Mountains for Me,” is hopefully another possible single release, a song of faith of an ever-present Savior. If we just call upon His name and trust, He will move those mountains for us. One of my favorites on the CD, “Step Out of the Boat,” is a song that states, “are we so comfortable, that we don’t step out of our comfort zone?” We can, you know. Christ is there. He’ll be there and hold our hand. May we as Christians never get so comfortable, that we never “Step Out of the Boat.”
“God Has Always Been Good,” and “Help Me Not to Fall” also continue that theme of faith on the CD. Then, the Hyssongs reach back into the classic catalog of Gospel and bring us their versions of “Beulah Land” and “Sheltered in the Arms of God.”
Overall, this CD is the best of the Hyssongs recording career. Del, Susan, and Richard – along with help from the Chapel Valley musicians and Roark – have crafted a project that will stand the test of time. Get a copy of “Still Moving Mountains” at http://www.thehyssongs.com/shop/ or wherever you get good Gospel music.
By the way, congratulations to the Hyssongs on having the No. 1 song “Let The Hallelujahs Ring” off of their “Faith and Family” project. It is the Hyssongs’ first ever No. 1 and also Chapel Valley’s very first No. 1 as a company.
Strongest Songs: “I Tell Them, Jesus,” “He Still Moves Mountains,” “Step Out of The Boat”
Producer: Shane Roark
2017 Chapel Valley/Mercy Road
Songs: “Unashamed;” “That Day Will Come;” “Eyes Upon The Cross;” “You’re Not Forgotten;” “Stand By My God;” “Same Old Life;” “God Sent You”; “It’s All Good;” “Live A Life;” “I Ain’t That Tough.” All songs written by Kirby Stailey, SESAC.
Kirby Stailey is back with his second release for Mercy Road to follow up his debut release, 2014’s “Sowin’ Seeds.” Once again Shane Roark is at the helm, and Stailey has written all 10 tracks of the project. Stailey has been singing for a number of years around my area, and he did very well with his first national release.
Stailey is known for his brand of Gospel that is on the country side, but he is very well received on the Southern Gospel side as well. The CD kicks off with “Unashamed.” The song says, “By Your love and by living water, I was saved, and I will praise His holy name unashamed.”
Song two says “That Day Will Come,” one day, and we must remember this is our temporary home. The third track should be a hit at Gospel radio if released as a single, a song entitled “Keep Your Eyes on the Cross.” Spritely fiddle work and a dobro add oomph to well-written lyrics. Always keep your eyes upon the cross.
“You’re Not Forgotten,” slows the pace down with a song of a loved one at a grave side remembering and letting them know they are not forgotten. “Stand By My God” says to lean on His Word and choose things that He says over this world. Things of this world will wilt away and fall, but His Word will stand. “Same Old Life” … I wouldn’t trade it for anything in this world. It may be humdrum, but what a great life I have.
Great Christian love song in “God Sent You.” In a life that was a cold and lonely, and wondering if I would ever find love, “God Sent You.” Friends, “It’s All Good,” yes it is. I could complain, but I praise you like I should because “It’s All Good.”
Remembering an old friend is the message in “Live a Life.” What will they remember most when I’m gone? “Live a Life” as a testimony of why He came. Lord help me “Live a Life.”
The CD closes with a tender ballad of letting go of a child and them spreading their wings. In the second verse, the song describes letting a daughter go down that aisle. When it comes to love and when it comes down to my children, “I Ain’t That Tough.”
Stailey has put together his best album yet. Stailey is an undiscovered treasure on the Gospel scene that will soon be discovered by folks outside Southern Indiana. Don’t just take my word that Stailey is good. Discover for yourself.
To get a copy of Stailey’s “Unashamed” CD, go to www.facebook.com/Kirby-Stailey-190112564344950/ and message him. The album will soon be on iTunes, and you can visit itunes.apple.com/us/artist/kirby-stailey/id556982805.
Strongest Songs: “Eyes Upon The Cross,” “Same Old Life,” “I Ain’t That Tough”
Judith Montgomery and Family
Producer: Shane Roark
2017 Chapel Valley/Church House
Songs: “That’s God” (Michael Jason Frost BMI); “Rubble Cry” (Megan Montgomery BMI); “Thank God” (Judith Montgomery (Judith Montgomery BMI); “Because He Lives” (Gloria Gaither-William J Gaither); “It’s 11:59” (Jeff Treece-Steve Jones-Dana Sigmon-Glen Ashworth ASCAP); “For The Grace Of God” (Judith Montgomery BMI); “There Is A Remedy” (Annie McRae); “Bloodline” (Betty Kirk Gurganus BMI); “I’ll Fly Away” (Albert E Brumley); “Anyway” (Brad Warren-Brett Warren-Martina McBride)
Judith Montgomery and Family – based out of Shoals, Ind., located in southwestern Indiana – has released her first national project titled “Thank God.” The family is comprised of Judith and her children – Megan and Graham. In this project, the Montgomerys have stepped out of their comfort zone and brought some great originals along with some well-sung standards.
“That’s God,” a hit for the Frosts, is sung convincingly. Yes, when those miracles happen, brother “That’s God.” The first original on “Thank God,” is written by Megan and titled “Rubble Cry.” This I hope will be released as a single. The group has never sounded better, and Megan is starting to come into her own as a songwriter.
“Thank God” is the title cut and another original from Judith, a great song thanking God for all the blessings in her life. “Because He Lives” and “I’ll Fly Away” were recorded because of requests from fans, and are well sung. Kudos to the Chapel Valley session players for giving a unique arrangement to “I’ll Fly Away.”
“It’s 11:59” is a song that was written by funny man Jeff Treece. Graham is finally coming into his own, and he absolutely owns this song. The time is short, and the Lord’s coming is nigh. It’s 11:59 … are you ready?
“For the Grace of God,” the last original on the project, was also written by Judith. If not for the grace of God, she could have taken a different path, and I’m so glad she didn’t. The song is convincingly sung and beautifully done.
“There Is a Remedy,” a beautiful tune originally recorded by the McRaes. It features Megan, Graham and Judith on the verses and the family on the chorus. For every sin-sick soul, there is a remedy, and His name is Jesus Christ. “Bloodline” and “Anyway” round out this project.
If you’re looking for a new artist or family to discover in Gospel Music, may I recommend Judith Montgomery and Family. Visit the Montgomery Family at www.facebook.com/judithmontgomeryministries/ and get a copy of “Thank God” at herejudithmontgomeryministries.weebly.com/store.html or wherever you get good Gospel music
Strongest Songs: “Rubble Cry,” “Thank God,” “For the Grace of God”
Randall Reviews It by Randall Hamm
First published by SGNScoops Magazine in July 2017
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