• Sun. Jul 21st, 2024

Group Name: Mercy’s Well

Website: www.mercyswell.com

Album Title: “Songbook: Where Hymns & Harmony Live”

Song Titles:

  1. He Will Surely Make It All Right
  2. God Put A Rainbow In The Cloud
  3. Jesus’ Love Has Made A Change
  4. Sin’s Dark Sea
  5. Leave Your Sorrows And Come Along
  6. The Unseen Hand
  7. Life Will Be Sweeter Someday with Sweeter As The Days Go By
  8. I’m A’ Goin’
  9. He Bought My Soul At Calvary
  10. He Was A Preachin’ Man
  11. While Endless Ages Roll
  12. When They Ring The Bells Of Heaven with Everybody Will Be Happy Over There

Mercy’s Well began as a duet in 1998 under the leadership of founder Brad Strider.  They soon transitioned into a trio, and are now one of the up-and-coming good young groups in Southern Gospel music.  The trio consists of Brad Strider (tenor/founder), Jon Azzarello (lead), and Greg Gainer (baritone).

“Songbook” is the group’s latest album and the third in their Hymns series.  All of these songs have a simple accompaniment of piano (or organ at times), and some of them have a bass guitar thrown in for good measure as well.  Most of these songs will be familiar to longtime listeners of Gospel music, and the group’s intent, according to group owner Brad Strider’s liner notes, was to make this an album full of “convention songs”.  They even add a guest bass vocalist on a few songs to make themselves a quartet.

Now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for: THE SONGS!

The first song is the medium-tempo “He Will Surely Make It All Right”.  The first thing that you notice is that the vocal blend is tight, even though the baritone is just a bit hot in the mix.  Also, the harmonies used in the vocal arrangements are just a bit different than the norm, giving the song a nice flavor.  The tempo then speeds up for “God Put A Rainbow In The Cloud”.  Again, the vocals are clear with a tight blend, and I found myself tapping my foot along with the beat laid down by the bass guitar.  Also, the nice segue into a slower portion of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” was a nice touch.  The third song is the medium-tempo “Jesus’ Love Has Made A Change”, and it is followed by the album’s first slower song, “Sin’s Dark Sea”.  This is the first song to use a guest bass vocalist, and they pick a good one for the part- Gene McDonald, formerly of the Florida Boys Quartet.  Gene guests on a one other song as well.

The tempo speeds back up for the up-tempo “Leave Your Sorrows And Come Along”.  This is one of those older songs that, at times, features each group member singing something different at the same time.  Even though it’s a cool effect, I must confess to the fact that it always frustrates me because I can’t always tell what each person is saying!  Also, it’s cool when they break into some “Do-Re-Mi” singing instead of using actual words.  The sixth song slows the tempo down again.  “The Unseen Hand” is an old song that just happens to be one of my favorites.  Song #7 is a combination of two songs: “Life Will Be Sweeter Someday” and “Sweeter As The Days Go By”.  This medium-tempo song has a nice, jazzy feel to it that sets it apart from the other songs on the album a bit.  The tempo then picks up for the eighth song, “I’m A’ Goin’”.  Once again the group brings in a guest bass singer, but this time it’s Paul Harkey of the Anchormen.  I happen to be a Paul Harkey fan, and his deep, rich tones really add a nice touch to this song.

The ninth song is a slower number called “He Bought My Soul At Calvary”.  This song features some nice unison work along with some smooth harmonies.  Gene McDonald returns once again to sing with the guys on “He Was A Preachin’ Man”.  This is a medium-tempo song that might be a good pick for a radio release from the album.  Next up is another medium-tempo song with a lighter feel.  “While Endless Ages Roll” is a fun song that I think listeners will enjoy.  The album ends with another number that combines two songs: “When They Ring The Bells Of Heaven” with “Everybody Will Be Happy Over There”.  This is a toe-tapper that might also be considered for a radio release.  I know that the guys probably didn’t want to overuse the whole guest bass vocalist thing, but this song to me was crying out for a bass singer!  Still, it was a nice note with which to end the album.

I don’t think that I have to tell you that I am a Mercy’s Well fan. I have enjoyed the “Hymns” series so far, and I can’t wait to get my hands on a mainline studio album.  If you like good, old-style, convention singing, then this album needs to be in your collection.  The vocals and arrangements were top notch, and Donna Beauvais did a superb job as producer.  My only complaint would be that the album could have used a bit more variety in tempo to spice things up a bit.  Overall, I give this album a rating of 9 ½ out of 10 microphones!

Favorites: “God Put A Rainbow In The Cloud”, “The Unseen Hand”, and “He Was A Preachin’ Man”

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