Prime Cuts: Another Life to Live, His Truth is Marching On, Present in the Presence of the King
Sometimes the man behind the record is more important than the person(s) appearing on the CD sleeve. The Guardian's debut record "Lift Him Up" is one such example. What makes this record open up fresh vistas to the word "majestic" is the album's producer Wayne Haun. Being the head honcho of one of Christian music's most seminal labels (StowTown Records) and having produced almost all the imprint's products, Haun allows his mettle to shine most glamorously on this album. Like the unfolding of classic scenes from an epic Disney movie with those heaven stirring sounds created by the gorgeous sounds of orchestrated strings, each song on this record is so impeccably arranged that it will leave you on the edge of your seat. What's more, every track here is so melodically and lyrically rich that it makes the listening experience even more three-dimensionally engaging.
All of such hortatory on the album's helmsman is by no means a discount on the Guardians. Despite being their debut record for StowTown, their storied harmonies and their versatility in approaching each song with individualistic touches make this record doubly great. The Guardians are by no means rookies in the music business. Founded in 1988, the quartet, turned trio, has watched their music land among the top 20 on Singing News Magazine charts. Yet the Group's members Dean Hickman, Neil Uhrig and John Darin Rowsey remain committed to glorifying the name of the Lord, sharing the gospel and touching lives through their music. Recently, they who were nominated for 2016 Favorite New Artist by Singing News and they are known for their recent hits such as "Somebody Prays," "Shoutin' Sounds," "Let the Healing Begin" and many others.
"Lift Him Up" is both a mixture of both covers as well as new songs. The set begins with the former; a spine chilling a cappella version of Larry Gatlin's "Alleluia." Reward certainly awaits the listen who tarries --- though the trio begins the song without much aplomb but listen to how they invest more and more passion as the song progresses. When it comes to the son's finale, you can't help but give them a standing ovation. Calling to mind those grand productions the late Lari Goss used to imbue those classic Legacy 5 records are "Another Life to Live," "His Truth is Marching On," "Keeper of the Lost and Found," and "Present in the Presence of the King." Indeed, this quartet of songs are the crowning moments of the record, they by themselves alone are worth the price of the download.
"Packing Up," interestingly, has been elected as the album's vanguard single. With its heavy on the banjo rootsy feel, "Packing Up" is atypical of the record. Though the song itself is melodically passable, it doesn't capture the grandeur of the rest of the songs, making it a strange cut to be sent to radio. Much better is "There is a Love." If released as a single, this song is definitely going to turn heads because of the song's Caribbean-styled feel. Though Jimmy Buffet and Kenny Chesney have anchored careers out of such tunes, it's rare for Southern Gospel music to incorporate samba into their worship. Also, of note is the brassy horns laced "Leaning." Creatively giving the hymn "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms" a new makeover, "Leaning" is an infectiously sunny piece made even brighter by its lyrics of faith in Jesus Christ.