Prime Cuts: Walk Too, Before the Sun Goes Down, My Ransom
"Life is Good" is a labor of love. Spending five years fine-tuning this album with the late Lari Goss on the producer's chair, this brand new Daywind Records is a specimen of what a fine record ought to sound like. For starters, the production is top drawer stuff. Never too anaemic that comes across as demo-like or too bombastic that makes you think of those embarrassing 80s techno records, "Life is Good" steps on the fine line between the sublime use of orchestration and rustic instruments. Allowing each song to chart its bear its own individuality, the instrumentations enhance the songs' ethos in signature ways. Moreover, the songs are deftly chosen. From the lesser known Southern Gospel hymnbook to newly crafted songs, all of them flourish in melodic prowess and theological depth.
Touted often as America's favorite family, the Hoppers have been singing to global audiences for over 55 years with appearances ranging from presidential religious inaugural ceremonies and New York's Carnegie Hall to singing conventions and church platforms. They have performed throughout the United States as well as in Israel, Europe and Africa. Their unique blend of harmonies and song choices have created a legacy of musical excellence embraced by leading pastors and event organizers. Their recordings frequently land at the top of the BILLBOARD sales charts and The Singing News radio charts.
The album opens on a high note with their latest #1 single "Jesus, the One." Penned by Paula Stefanovich (who wrote their 2004 mega-hit "Jerusalem"), "Jesus the One" is a grand orchestrated ode to Jesus that trumps on the song's attention paid to the details. While "Jesus, the One" is majestically polished, the title cut "Life is Good" showcases the group's versatility as they indulge in some country-sounding fun. Jesus' Sermon on the Mount gets a 21st Century facelift with the ballad "Walk Too." Jesus' lesson about walking the second mile doesn't get clearer than this.
If you love ballads, be on the lookout for "Before the Sun Goes Down." The combination of piano and the gentle stir of strings makes this prayer of re-commitment at the end of each day a hit to the heart. Taking a more jazzy Legacy Five-esque approach, the Hoppers come across charmingly on the oft-covered "Until You've Known the Love of God." Speaking of covers, the Hoppers make "Brethren We Have Met to Worship" their own, rivalling Collingsworth Family for the best version of this Southern Gospel favorite. Without any intro and donning a minimalistic backing, the Hoppers' rendition of the hymn "My Ransom" is spine chilling. The Cross of Jesus gets to be appreciated afresh with the song's wonderful use of soul-pricking questions.
A large part of the album's success comes from the deft hands of producer Lari Goss. Considering that Goss died earlier this year, "Life is Good" must be one of his swan songs. Showing no sign of deprecation in his quality of work, this album is testament to what great ears, hands, and heart God has gifted this outstanding servant of His.