Marshall Hall – “Brighter One”
Previously I reviewed The Martins “New Day”. Overall, I thought it was excellent except for the fact that it contained a lot of very indirect references to Christ. I may have been a little harsh, but when it’s that noticeable, it kinda makes one wonder what the aim was. I’m not a stickler for having to say “Jesus” in every single line or every song, even if He IS the point. I only bring that up because the producer for that project was Jay Demarcus of Rascal Flatts acclaim, who along with Hall, and Michael English collaborated to produce this one. And this time, it clicks. Marshall Hall’s Daywind debut is in fact, one of the best projects I’ve heard all year, maybe in the last couple of years. It’s not fully southern gospel, or country, or contemporary, but it’s fully good.
This project accomplishes what I generally like in gospel music. I suppose if you’re Gaither affiliated, the knack for taking risks in different styles isn’t all that uncommon. So it becomes a moot point for me to rant about it. And it becomes a moot point for me to compare Marshall Hall to The Kingdom Heirs or The Inspirations, so that ain’t gonna happen either. But this also isn’t for the average traditional quartet man (no pun intended in reference to the faithful commenter). What this is, is great music. This project isn’t schizophrenic as some other bloggers have reviewed other projects. “Brighter One” sets a clear, distinct musical tone, combined by influences of other genres in one song and using that method throughout, versus sticking influences all over the place, as The Kingsmen’s “Ordinary Man” may contrast to “insert convention song”. Not that I mind any of that…do what you love, but know your audience too. Sometimes that theory works, but leaves a cloudy intention of your art. And I don’t think “Brighter One” suffers over any of that.
For my personal tastes, I don’t think I’m going out on a limb. This is one of the top releases of the year, hands down, at least in my view. It’s country pop meets Gaither, and it doesn’t all sound the same. This took over a year to complete and the time and effort proves itself more than sufficient.
There is one thing that was vastly different with this. Love songs. While I don’t foresee Legacy Five talking about “putting the kids to bed”, I believe wholeheartedly in bringing romance and family back to the forefront of Christian music, just like I believe more pastors should be preaching from Song of Solomon. Whether percentages are skewed or not, the fact remains that even Christians have forgotten what a marital covenant is or isn’t. When you look at the evangelical landscape, many churches don’t teach how to have strong, Christ-centered marriages…and that spending time with, and romancing your wife is the essence of healthy, Christian living. If you want to be free in serving Christ, stay single. But if you want to work towards being MORE like Christ, get married. You’ll understand service and covenant, and love in brand new ways. Even if it’s a bit of Rascal Flatts inspiration, I admire Hall taking the chance.
I’ll be honest, I had a run-down on the songs, but it was suddenly erased, and since I’m out of town, I may just have to publish a Part 2 of this review at a later time. All of the songs are solid, or at least fit Marshall Hall’s voice and style, but I find myself only skipping a couple. A few notables on the top of my head:
- Brighter One
- He Was
- When You Love
- Beautiful, Scandalous Night
- There Is Nothing Greater Than Grace
- Voice of a Savior
The last track, a Nicole Nordeman tune, may also be good but my copy came to me all scratched up, so I couldn’t hear it well. These days, if you can get 7 great songs on an album, it’s usually worth checking out. I think a couple of these songs would do TERRIFIC on Country radio. They would be smart to push it there, and maybe in the process some new fans may become familiar with the genre. I think we could agree even if Hall isn’t our favorite vocalist, he sounds as good or better than others on Country Music radio.