Video of The Week: Jon Epley Debuts with The Lefevre Quartet

As announced last week, The Lefevre Quartet welcomed new bass vocalist Jon Epley to their group.  Epley joins a very talented group, comprised of father and son duo Mike & Jordan Lefevre at lead and baritone respectively, powerhouse tenor Jeremy Peace, and pianist Michael Lott. 

The group posted the following video to their Facebook page to give their fans a taste of their blend with Epley.  Give it a listen and let us know your thoughts!

Jon Epley Departs The Ball Brothers, Joins Lefevre Quartet

21303_912944842083720_787004317313100336_nThe Lefevre Quartet have announced their new bass vocalist will be Jon Epley. Epley replaces Brandon Berry who left the group a few weeks prior. Epley first came to prominence as the baritone for Statement of Faith, a trio with brothers Jacob & Joe Kitson, and The Inspirations. Epley moved from baritone to bass, to fill the void left by Mike Holcomb. Epley left the Inspirations to join the Ball Brothers in early 2015, and did a remarkably good job there. Epley joins a great lineup already with tenor Jeremy Peace and the father & son combo of Jordan (lead) and Mike (baritone) Lefevre, along with pianist Michael Lott.

Group owner Mike Lefevre issued the following statement in a press release, “We are thrilled to have Jon joining The LeFevre Quartet. He brings not only years of experience, but a beautiful bass voice and a sincere heart for God.

Jon issued the following statement about joining the Lefevres, ” I am so excited to be joining The LeFevre Quartet. I have been a fan of Mike LeFevre for many years, and feel that joining the vocal lineup of Mike, Jordan, and Jeremy can yield great things for the glory of the Lord. The guys and their families have welcomed my wife Tiffany and myself with open arms, and that means the world to us! Their heart for the Lord, ministry, and family is an inspiration. We are looking forward to what is in store, and are extremely grateful for this opportunity.”

Meanwhile, The Ball Brothers issued the following statement regarding Epley’s departure.

We want to let everyone know that Jon Epley is leaving the Ball Brothers to join the LeFevre Quartet. We love Jon and Tiffany and want to thank them for the time that they spent with us. We’re sad to see them go, but want them to be where God wants them. Please go out and support Jon and the LeFevre Quartet. At this time, we are not soliciting auditions. We plan to announce a new bass vocalist soon.

God Bless,
Andrew, Daniel and Chad

Epley also commented on his time with the Ball Brothers, “In my time with The Ball Brothers, we went from being friends to brothers. The entire Ball family welcomed my wife and I into their hearts, and we will never forget that. The Ball Brothers took great care of my family and I. Although God is moving us to a different ministry, the Ball Brothers and the Ball Family will always have a special place in our hearts, and we will always count them dear friends. I learned a lot about music and about myself through my tenure with the group. There are big things happening now and upcoming in the Ball Brothers’ ministry, and I wish them all the success in the world. I encourage everyone to check their schedule and go see them any chance you get. To the guys I say this: Daniel, Andrew, Chad, I love you guys. We had some amazing times, and saw God do some great things. Thank you for everything. I’ll see you down the road.

Sincerely,
Jon Epley”

I’ll be completely honest and tell you that this move took me by surprise, I would have never imagined Epley to be a fit with The Lefevre Quartet, but anything can happen. Jon is without a doubt one of the most talented and versatile vocalists in our genre. I am very curious to see what the future holds for this lineup. Make sure you go see The Lefevre Quartet when they’re in your area, and welcome Jon to the group!

 

 

Guest Album Review – “Undivided” by Master’s Voice

 

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I first heard Master’s Voice several years ago at a convention in Michigan. The group was a trio at the time and I was very impressed by their sound. Shortly after hearing them, the group had a change in personnel and added lead vocalist Justin Morphis, formerly of 11th Hour. Last year, after baritone Joey Johnson departed, the group made the transition to a quartet with the addition of baritone Stan Watson (Paul’s Journey), and bass singer Jerry Pilgrim (Old Time Gospel Hour Quartet). Undivided is their first mainline release as a quartet and the first quartet release of 2016. I’ve asked my friend Brandon Coomer of Coomer’s Cove to share with us his thoughts on this new project. Check it out!

Master’s Voice has been together over a decade but their latest recording effort is their best to date. They could not have picked a better time to up their game, as this is their first recording on a national label. Undivided is outstanding from beginning to end, and that is being conservative.
Lead singer Justin Morphis gets the majority of features and his huge voice is definitely the standout. He is featured on everything from a big ballad (“This Same Jesus”) to a fun, catchy, bluesy song (“Goodbye To Goodbye”) and he shines on them all. Justin has a powerful voice, and at times, I worried he would over sing a lyric, but that never happened on this recording.  One of his features, “Here I Am Again,” is one of the best cuts on the project.
Owner and tenor Ricky Capps only gets a couple of features but one of those (“Somebody Is Me”) is my favorite up tempo song on the project. The chorus tells of several things somebody should do in a church service (shed a tear, say amen, raise their hand, etc.) but turns it around at the end and says, “I pray today Somebody Is Me.”  As mentioned, it is a fast song, but that is a great message. How often in or around church do we hear, “Someone needs to do that. Let’s pray the Lord will send someone,” instead of doing something ourselves?
The group has two relatively new members in baritone Stan Watson and bass Jerry Pilgrim. Both made their debut with the group on a Hymns project late last year.  Pilgrim is the first bass singer in the group’s history, as they transitioned from a trio to a quartet last year.  Both have multiple strong features.
Stan is featured on the second verse of the project’s opening song, “I Can Hardly Wait to Fly,” the first radio single. The song is a safe choice to introduce the group to new fans on the radio. However, several other songs are stronger, including the Rachel McCutcheon penned “Ain’t It Good”, which features Stan on the first verse and Justin on the second.
Jerry’s bass voice is a tremendous addition to the group. He is featured one of the project’s strongest songs, “Lord Of Mercy.” That would have been my pick for the first radio single.  I love the mix on this song as it leaves Jerry’s vocal hot coming out of the verses and really grabs you. Jerry and Justin split the verses on the project’s final song, “Everything The Blood Touches Lives.”  The song is slow and uses “The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power” as a bridge, but still feels too short. 
My one question concerning Undivided is if the second week of the year is too soon to declare a CD the best of the year?
EDITORS NOTE: Like Brandon, I really enjoyed Undivided and I highly recommend this project. From start to finish, this project has something for everyone. This recording was my introduction to Jerry Pilgrim and let me tell you, I was impressed. “Lord Of Mercy” is a song I put on repeat a lot, I also enjoyed Jerry’s other features on “I Know What He Did For Me” and “Everything The Blood Touches Lives“. I also loved “This Same Jesus” and “Send Somebody”, which feature Justin.
With the recent disbandment of quartet’s like The Old Paths, Driven Quartet, and Brian Free & Assurance‘s transition to a trio, Master’s Voice is a great quartet to step up and fill this void. These guys are worth hearing and Undivided is a great introduction to them. To order your copy of Undivided, you can purchase it from Master’s Voice web store or download it on iTunes.
Review copy provided by Crossroads Label Group.

CD Review: “Home” by The Lefevre Quartet

Home is the latest project by The Lefevre Quartet, released on Activate Records. It is the groups first mainline recording with new tenor vocalist Jeremy Peace and has been eagerly awaited by yours truly. The project was originally slated for release in October at the National Quartet Convention, but thankfully its complete now and just in time for fans to pickup before the Holidays.

the-lefevre-quartet-home-coverThe project opens with the title cut, Rusty Goodman’s classic “Home”. Although this song has become a standard in our field, the group has a nice, fresh arrangement and the vocals sound great. Next up is the first of two slower paced songs featuring lead vocalist Jordan Lefevre, “He Saved Me Anyway” and “I Don’t Know Why”. I was impressed by Jordan on this project, as his voice continues to improve with each recording and he turns in some great performances on Home. The pace picks up a bit with the next cut, “He Was There”, which features baritone Mike Lefevre, Jordan, and Peace on all three verses respectively. I love the energy on this cut! Next song, “To Say Goodbye” is a slow, country song that features bass singer Brandon Barry. This is my least favorite song on the project. The song talks about death, and I would say more so about closure. The first verse addresses a tragedy (airplane crash) while the second verse talks about a disease like dimentia, that robs a loved one of their ability to remember their family. It’s a heavy song, very thought provoking. Personally, I would have really liked to have heard Brandon sing an uptempo song here. 

Another ballad featuring Jordan, “He Left No Stone Unturned”, kicks off the second half of the project. It’a a great song with a fantastic lyric that focuses on what our Lord went through to complete his work on Earth. The pace picks up again with “Something”, a fun quartet that describes how God can something with anybody. Peace steps up for the feature on the next song, another ballad “I’ll Do Anything”. Jeremy does a great job on this song, really showing off his range, and sings it with great emotion, communicating the lyric. As someone who has followed Peace throughout his career, this is one of my favorite songs I’ve heard him sing & definitely one of the highlights of this project. Mike takes the feature on the next song, a great ballad on prayer entitled “All I Can Do Is Pray”. The project comes to a close with an uptempo tune, “Unseen Things Above”.

While I did enjoy Home, I was surprised by the number of slow songs. Of the 11 songs on Home, 7 are ballads (A Bonus Track of “I Don’t Know Why” that features Les Cheveldayoff from TBN singing the second verse is included in that figure). Compared to their last mainline project, But For The Cross, the project is not as balanced.  I would have liked to heard another uptempo song that featured both the tenor and bass. Ballad heavy records tend to bore some people, me included. 

In spite of my critiques, I encourage you to pickup a copy of this project. The Lefevre Quartet really have a good thing going right now. Their blend is excellent  and the addition of Peace, in my opinion, puts them over the top. I’m very encouraged by their direction and I look forward to seeing what the future has in store for them. 

To pickup your copy of Home, visit The Lefevre Quartet’s website here. As always, please share this review and if you’ve heard the project already, leave your feedback in the comments below. We’d love to hear your thoughts!

Review copy provided.

 

Sing It Again!: How Great The Debt with Dianne Wilkinson & Rebecca Peck

10917263_10152751770471608_5173493950208540515_nIt’s been a while since I’ve done a post in this series, but I wanted to discuss a great song that maybe you haven’t heard but definitely need to check out. On the latest and final recording from The Old Paths, Stay, the group recorded a fantastic song entitled How Great The Debt. Written by Dianne Wilkinson and Rebecca Peck and sung masterfully by lead singer Tim Rackley, it’s a powerful song and reminder of just how awesome and great the debt of our sin truly was.

I asked Dianne where the inspiration came for the lyrics of the song, “I remember pondering one day on the enormity of the suffering of Our Lord on the cross, and all during the long night before the awful day. I wondered for just a moment why he couldn’t have had a different kind of death…more merciful. And it seemed that God immediately answered my question…”the cost had to be high, because that’s how great and grievous the sin debt was”. It is also true that His suffering was prophesied in the Bible. I wanted to write about that great debt. I don’t recall exactly how long it took to write the lyrics I sent to Becky. But it was less than 30 minutes. Every time I hear someone mention some deed or sacrament that has to be done by man before he can be saved, my first thought is “then why did Jesus have to suffer as He did to be able to say of the Plan of Salvation, “It is finished? No. Jesus paid it ALL!”

Co-writer Rebecca Peck shared, “I remember we were talking on the phone about the idea and she (Dianne) was saying that we focus on the debt being paid so much, and we should, but we don’t stop enough to think about how much it really cost him and how great our debt really was. She, of course, sent a killer lyric. I wrote the music on New Years Eve 2012. The irony of the song was that we used a snippet of the hymn Jesus Paid It All as the bridge, and that song was also written on New Year’s Eve!

As we approach the Christmas season and celebrate the birth of Christ, I can’t help but think about the very reason he was born. He came here to die, to pay my sin debt and yours as well. May this song cause you to think about the great debt that Jesus paid with his life, and rejoice in that. My thanks to both Dianne Wilkinson and Rebecca Peck for their time and being so gracious in sharing their story behind this great song. Take a listen to the song below and share this with a friend!

 

Album Review: “In That Better Land” by 4 One Quartet

Today’s CD Review features a group that’s been making a name for themselves in recent days.      4 One Quartet hails from Reed City, Michigan. The quartet is comprised of group owner/manager Jim Quales singing lead, Will Funk on bass vocals, Brad Ledbetter supply’s the tenor, with Raymond Ashmore rounding out the group on baritone. Although the group is less than 3 years old, the members are all seasoned veterans. They have a busy schedule that takes them all over the Mid West and throughout the south as well. They have just released a brand new project, In That Better Land, produced by Rob Novell.

 

IMG_3589 The cd opens with You Are The Only One, a new song written by Dianne Wilkinson, which also features the chorus of How Great Is Our God. Lead singer Quales is featured on the project’s second cut, Based Upon The Word, written by Scotty Inman. Things slow down a bit for Miracle of God, which features Ashmore on the verses. The pace picks up again with a quartet song, I Wanna Be Ready, which features bass vocalist Funk and Quales on the verses. Raymond also gets to play a little saxophone on this one too. The first half of the project comes to a close with the title track, written by and featuring Ledbetter. The song reminds me a bit of Heroes of the Faith by Legacy Five, probably because of the end of the second verse. Nontheless, a good song about Heaven that will connect with listeners.

The second half starts with a familiar song that also features Ledbetter, I Can See The Hand. Things slow down again to feature Funk on another sing you’ll recognize, Thank Him For The Miracle. It was neat to hear a bass singer featured on this one and Will does a good job on the verses. The pace picks up again for a great song Gotta Have Faith, that features the tenor, Ledbetter. Next up is another great quartet song, He Washed My Soul, that features Ashmore on the second verse, and uses I Never Shall Forget The Day. Closing out the project is the praise & worship favorite, Everlasting God/Leaning On The Everlasting Arms, which benefits from a great country arrangement and some solid four part harmony.

When you listen to a group you’ve never heard before, its always more enjoyable when there is a good blend among the vocalists. Well 4 One doesn’t just have a good blend, they have a great blend! Its also great to hear song modern worship songs utilized by the quartet. With excellent song selection and solid vocals, In That Better Land is a wonderful introduction to this group and a project that I recommend. In particular, my favorite tracks were You Are The Only One/How Great Is Our God, Based Upon The Word, Miracle of God, He Washed My Soul/I Never Shall Forget The Day, and Everlasting God. To hear for yourself, you can find In That Better Land on iTunes or order a physical copy from the group here.

 

Review copy provided, a favorable review was not guaranteed.

It’s Just My Opinion – The $20 CD???

I haven’t written an editorial piece in a while so I decided to fire up the old keyboard and write one. I did not attend this year’s National Quartet Convention (NQC) in Pigeon Forge, TN, but I had several friends who attended. One subject that I wanted to bring up is one that has really puzzled me for some time, the $20 cd.  I had asked a friend if he purchased a certain cd that had been receiving some hype. He replied that he did purchase the cd but mentioned he paid $20 for it. Now, we fans know that the standard cd price is $15, and it’s been $15 since cd’s first came on to the marketplace in the 1980’s.

I also know, as someone who has made several recordings in the studio, that there is a great cost involved in recording a cd. Everything from paying for studio musicians/leasing sound tracks, studio time, songwriter royalties, duplication, photography, graphic design and endless other things that come with recording and releasing a project, can amount thousands of dollars being spent. However, I consider $20 a steep price for a cd that is in a cardboard sleeve that probably cost $2.00 or less to manufacture.

When everyone else at an event like NQC is selling cd’s at the standard $15 and you’re charging $20, it tells me that you’re desperate to make as much money as possible. It’s the equivalent of price gouging, trying to get the maximum amount of money out of people while you have them in front of you. Maybe that works with a majority of our crowd who don’t know any better or don’t care, but there is a segment of fans that will not spend their $20 on a cd when they know they could buy it through at digital music service, like iTunes, or at their Christian bookstore for less.

Do we want to support groups by purchasing their product through them? Yes, but nobody wants to feel like they’ve been ripped off when they see the exact same cd for 5-10 dollars less elsewhere. As bad as I would like to have the liner notes to see who wrote the songs, who played on the tracks and other pertinent information, I would also not like to be wasteful with my money. You don’t have to agree, It’s Just My Opinion.