Prime Cuts: I Belong to Jesus, Living in Harmony, When He Reached Down His Hand For Me
One gets the sneaky suspicion that "Living in Harmony" is not just a title of convenience for Triumphant. Rather, based on the fact that the team has had only one personnel change over the tenure of their 13-years history, one suspects that this quartet lives, breathes and practices every nuances that they try to advocate on this album. In a genre where many Southern Gospel quartets has had frequent shuffle in their group make-up, Triumphant's harmonious stand is a refulgent parable of what is means to live in harmony. As a result of embodying their message, there is an air of flagrant authenticity when these men start singing.
Though this is not the first time, the team has had worked with producer Wayne Haun, "Living in Harmony" is the quartet much anticipated debut release from StowTown Records (Ernie Haase & Signature Sound, TaRanda Greene & Doug Anderson).Comprising of David Sutton (tenor), Clayton Inman (lead), Scott Inman (baritone), and Eric Bennett (bass), Triumphant is one of Southern Gospel music's most notable quartets evidenced by their numerous Singing News Fan Awards as well as a Grammy nomination in 2009. For a record released by StowTown which is known for their more progressive sounds, "Living in Harmony" takes a throwback step to the more traditional Southern Gospel sound. Part of the reason may be due to the number of covers on the album.
When Gold City nailed "When He Reached Down His Hand for Me" all thoe years ago, one would have thought no one could ever improve on perfection. But with Haun's majestic sounding string setting and the Triumphant terse and never excessive old fashioned harmonies, they put a fresh coat of brilliance on this ode to God's saving grace. Also resurrected from the vaults is "Black and White," here the Triumphant give this classic a toe-tapping shuffling country shine that makes you want to get up dancing to the song's joyous message of what Christ has done on the Cross. On the other hand, Phillips, Craig and Dean's "A Friend Called Grace" is a surprising cover. Instead of stringently emulating PCD's AC/pop sound, Triumphant has turn "A Friend Called Grace" into a deep Southern swampy blues read that almost sounds like a brand new song altogether. Toe-tapping opportunities continue with the Scott Inman and Jeff Bumgardner penned title cut "Living in Harmony." A song shaft with life-transforming messages for those are experiencing strife at home or in church.
Those who love a piano ballad would put "I Belong to Jesus" on repeats. Coming from the pens of Scott Inman and Sue C. Smith, "I Belong to Jesus" is a pensive ode that speaks of the freedom that comes when we belong to Jesus. However, the song would have been even better executed if Clayton or David were to take the lead rather than bassist Eric Bennett. The song's richly nuanced lyrics somehow require a more elastic vocal range (other than a bassist) to bring out. Nevertheless, "Living in Harmony," is still a solid affair of great songs, flawlessly performed by a team that lives out the truth of this record.