David Bruce Murray pulls out all the stops and stars and gives Valor’s new cd FIVE stars. Wow. Even for a reviewer who tends, in my opinion, to be a bit starry eyed in his reviews, this makes me want to go out and get this cd. A year or so ago I caught a few tracks of theirs on a friend’s borrowed cd and jotted a few notes to myself (against some day like this when I’d have reason to use them, I ’spose), which included, I see as I look back in my files, the following:

Either they have some serious stracking and studio dubbing going on, or they have more than three members and, ahem, their publicity agency hasn’t gotten around to updating things. In any event, sure sounds like there are more than three parts being sung on almost all these tracks, which wouldn’t be an issue if they weren’t a trio.

This was all about the time of much hoopla and wowifying over Valor’s bass and his range (see here), who purports to have a 5+ octave range. If you Google this guy, Paul David Kennamer, you’d think he was a cross between a carnival act and J.D. Sumner. I’m not sure he’s all that, but then I haven’t heard that much of him and don’t think much in general of belching, growly low-for-the-sake-of-low bass singing. But still, a 4.5-5.5 octave range? Back on planet earth, I remember his voice being helped along a lot in the tracks I heard by the kind of mixing-board magic similar in spirit if not in type to what Bill Gaither has been getting by on for years. Not that this Valor fellow is a fake bass like Gaither. He sounded to me like the real deal, just not all that. Which accounts for some of the other notes I wrote when I first heard them:

I could personally do with less of the huffing and carrying on in low-low registers from the bass, and the group in general could benefit from a producer/arranger who didn’t let them indulge in so many solo and ensemble arabesques and augmentations and curlyqueing (listen, for instance, to the way they sing one of the IAG’d “Satisfied”s near the end of the song by that name). Evidently, though, this choreographed improvisation is a large part of the marketing plan here (aka their “unique” style, attributed in the group’s online bio to the bass himself, who also arranges a lot of the group’s stuff), as is the too-breathy preciousness of the tenor voice now and then, especially when he seems to be really leaning into a line to force out this or that particular emotion (echoes of First Love’s J. P. Miller’s oh-so-precious Ss when he solos). No matter, all this is just not necessary. These guys sound from what I’ve heard as though they can really sing (of course a live set would have to confirm them, but still … benefit of the doubt and all). And it’s a fun, well-sung sound that’s stylistically pleasant (mostly … though do see above: queing, comma curly). Which is to say, young(ish), evidently talented groups could do worse than try too hard.

Perhaps they’ve improved and refined their sound. Certainly this new project seems worth hearing. Anyone else heard it?

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  1. Al wrote:

    I sang on the same programs with Valor for several nights in the Bahamas when they were touring with Larry Ford in 2003. They had a different lead singer then, but Paul David and John Laws were in the group then. Extemely nice and good guys, and as tough as it is to believe, Paul David Kennamer’s 5-octave range is the real deal. Every night, I heard bass notes that JD or the deepest of sgm’s deepest basses would have been thrilled to hit. A verse later, he’d be in the high tenor range. Most impressive of all, his quality remains no matter where he sings. I haven’t heard this new CD, but I’d wait a bit before I called DBM’s review “starry-eyed”! Chances are it’ll blow anyone away.

  2. maybe wrote:

    Have heard them and they are all very good vocally.the stage presentation is way to disney world for me and there are at least 12 voices on the tracks..The bass singer is very good but does alot of facial motions and less than useful sounds or ad -libs..I would be much more impressed if there were enough singers to cover the harmony parts…and could hear them sing without the vocal help….

  3. Tom wrote:

    I’ve heard about them for awhile, but never really looked into them until now. And I never realized that John Laws and Kennamer had both been with the Acappella Company! I’ve been a huge John Laws fan for years, I didn’t realize he was now with Valor.

  4. Dean Adkins wrote:

    The last time I heard them I was underwhelmed.

  5. MM wrote:

    Am I missing something? Why do you need a Bass singer in a Trio? As fun as the bass part is, it is the least important as far as harmony is concerned.

  6. maybe wrote:

    There is something missing, The harmony part.. Don’t get me wrong, the final product is good but three people singing four parts is a conflict for me. From the looks of Valor’s schedule, they are not working at all….nothing is listed

  7. Ben wrote:

    I met these guys a few different times when they would pass through north Florida and stop by the church I then served to drop of CD’s and try to line up tour dates. They are all really great guys and between the three of them, they not only sing but arrange most everything they do. The bass singer really can do hit those notes in person (I was treated to a little singing session in my office) and he is a tad bit shy about being asked to do it. The tenor is no slouch either.
    Their newest CD is a really nice contrast to their last one, with some very unusual content on it, such as the way they get into “Above the Moon”…a song I was not familiar with until hearing them do it. It was great to hear Larry Ford with them as well on “It’s Almost Over”.
    These guys are genuine gentleman and fine singers and I think their talent is only begining to be discovered. It was weird though that they travel with their dad and another lady whose relationship to the group was never made known. She had a different name than all of them…hmm..??

  8. MM wrote:

    Alright, so my curiosity has been peeked. I went to the website and took a listen to the audio clips. I know that i cannot form a complete opinion without listening to the entire project, but the clips alone are enough to discourage me from purchasing it. In “How Great Thou Art” there is no tone sung on the word “displayed”. I know there are others that hear that and say, “Why even waist tape on that?!” It’s rediculous. And how in the world can a trio sing “Over the Moon”. I guess i just don’t understand why they cannot just find a fourth singer, and be a quartet.

  9. maybe wrote:

    To me, It is a strange situation(3 guys-4 parts) and that in itself will keep them from being succesful.Most likely the Dad or The Lady are the money behind the group..How many times does that happen, Money- find them a place in the group…

  10. niv wrote:

    I think I remember a discussion on another board…originally they were a quartet and a member left and was never replaced…I bet David Murray remembers.

  11. Blondie wrote:

    It is strange to me that Paul David Kennamer is always thanking different people for their support and talks about his faith alot. He never seems to mention that he has a wife and three children at home that he never sees. Just a little strange to me—what do you think?

  12. William wrote:

    I heard that Valor is no longer traveling together.

  13. Klley wrote:

    You can go bout it in different ways of sayin those guys are not good unless bla..bla bt paul is the most outstanding bass singer i ever heard.i say dis coz am a bass with four octaves bt he is unique in style i belive every1 is bt him extraordinary

  14. lavanlou wrote:

    wow! paul is the real deal. he goes lower than JD and even that guy from signature sound.

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