Review: Hissong

On the Way Up

Vine Records, 2007

: 50%

HisSong is typical of many hard-working groups on the fringes of the industry who can sing for years and burn through several short-lived careers, all the while teetering between obscurity and breaking through. On the Way Up is the group’s third album (or fourth, depending how you feel about albums that are solely covers of old tunes), and besides being borrowed from a fantastic old Hemphills song – more about that in a bit – the album title aptly captures the aspirational quality of project.

Anchored by three older tunes (the title track and one other Hemphills’ song, “The Miracle Man,” and “Joy in my Heart”), the album comprises mostly new material orchestrated and arranged with the kind of glittering expertise that in most other genres is reserved for only upper-echelon acts. The result – if you close your eyes and listen imaginatively – is a dispatch from some potential future moment when a successful HisSong has landed their Gaither Music record deal and out Wolfed Greater Vision for most beloved male trio. At least this scenario helps the NQC-sized orchestrations on the album feel more contextually appropriate.

I recommend attempting this feat of imagination while listening over and over to the title track, “On the Way Up,” which I confess is pretty much the main reason I decided to review the album in the first place. The Hemphills recorded the song on their Without a Doubt album from 1876 1976. As it’s covered here, it’s not the only good song on the album, but it’s easily the best. Refurbished with a black gospel gait that’s helped along with some R&B moves here and there and held together by the understated distinction of pianist Virgil Stratton’s work at the keyboards, the song exemplifies the way to pay homage to a great old song, while also making it wholly your own.

Partly, the song’s success emerges from an admirable vocal discipline, which helps define this and other solid, if not outstanding, songs, such as “The Grave Can’t Hole Hold Me” and “I Don’t Regret.” As for “On the Way Up,” this discipline keeps the group from oversinging. Instead of giving in to the centrifugal pull of the black gospel style – there’s always the temptation for southern gospel singers to want to Kirk-Franklin all over the last quarter of these songs – the harmony stays focuses and gains texture as the song gains momentum. Instead of speeding up the tempo or launching the voices off into their own orbits, the arrangement builds intensity by complicating and enriching the passing tones. Slide into a chord here, lean on a note slightly harder over there … the vocal discipline allows less is to be so much more.

But the real show-stealer here (and elsewhere) is the tenor part, sung by Adam Eldrod (thanks, SS). It’s not the kind of voice I’m sure I’d want to hear for prolonged periods of time. Indeed at his weakest, Elrod seems so enamored with the distinctive vocal sounds he can produce that he forgets to sing his lines with consistent comprehensibility (he especially needs to be careful to close his vowels and sharpen his phrases so that they are less about tone painting and more about clearly communicating complete musical ideas). But that said, Elrod sees and attempts to do something other and else with the high parts than typical gospel tenors. It’s a different voice, mostly in a good way, very human, self-possessed and experimental, as far as southern gospel is concerned. Exhausted as I am by the high, thin, tinny and coldblooded sound that so many tenors strive for, Elrod’s voice has the potential to distinguish itself in the manner of Jeff Crews’, formerly of Paid in Full, or Rick Strickland’s, in his prime.

It doesn’t hurt that Elrod and the rest of the group have an excellent vehicle in a Joel Hemphill tune. I don’t know why Hemphill’s songs aren’t re-covered more than they are, but that just makes it all the more joy to find “The Miracle Man” on here as well. It’s not nearly as strongly done as “On the Way Up,” but the album deserves points for featuring two old, less-remembered, but by no means lesser, Hemphills tunes.

Much of the rest of the album gets carried along by the force of the production quality. So good, in fact, that at times it tends to accentuate the distance between the group’s ability and that of their producer. “Because of the Blood” is the obligatory power-house B-3 gospel crooner tune. I’m a sucker for these songs, so the predictable lyrics don’t bother me that much, since the fun of these numbers is not the freshness of the writing but listening to how a particular ensemble puts its mark on a standard subspecies of the genre.

What did lift a butt-check off the chair, though, was the baritone’s pitchy entrance, the way he seemed to be trying to sing the way he thought someone should sound for this kind of song – all melisma and chewy syllables. And then there’s the mumbly delivery on “The Things That Won’t Be There,” a song with the same kind of rapid-fire phrasing of “I Wish I Coulda Been There.” The verses need to pop more, and the ensemble as a whole needs to go back and listen to how the Perrys deployed the use of staccato to sing their way through “I Wish.” As it is, the vocals feel like they’re being dragged along by the band track, and slurred lines give the impression of rhythmic ineptitude and amateurism.

The baritone (and lead) deserves credit for not trying to sing out of his range, but too often, he seems to be covering up his trouble with tone placement by going breathy. This is especially the case with “Out of His Way,” which has the added misfortune of being lyrically formulaic, conceptually predictable, and unnecessarily draggy. Like a few other songs here – “Through Every Storm” particularly comes to mind, with its telegraphed reliance on meteorological metaphors and an overdone ending that tries to compensate for the rest of the song’s weakness – the song feels like something an A-list writer pulled out of the back of the drawer for a C-list group (there’s probably a joke here about not going out of your way to listen to this song, but I’d have to listen to the song again to figure it out).

The lead voice is slightly stronger, but lacks definition and authority. But my point isn’t to pick on the guys individually. The point is, HisSong really is a good example of the old line about the sum of their parts etc. The album is not exactly diverse in its song styles, but there’s good variety here, such as “Our Highest Praise,” an easy listening tune that struck me as a good contender for a sitcom theme song, which I don’t mean entirely pejoratively. It’s catchy, harmonically sophisticated and confident, and nicely paced. All the way to this end of the spectrum and back again to the solid, traditional center of “Joy In My Heart,” the group maintains a pleasant, sometimes even impressive ensemble sound.

You may have heard “I Still Have it All” on the radio, which is a fine enough song, as midtempo songs of reassurance go. It gives the tenor solid exposure while also showcasing the ensemble’s harmonic strength (completely an aside: but don’t the entrances to the verses sound almost exactly like the entrances to the verses for “Four Days Late”?). Except, there’s the super-strong “On the Way Up” sitting at the top of album just waiting to endear the group to nostalgia-loving sg audiences everywhere. Added bonus! It’s a fantastic tune. With luck, it’ll be the group’s next single off the project. And even if it isn’t, we can still close our eyes and imagine.

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  1. skyline singer wrote:

    The tenor singer you are referring to on the project (who does a fine job by the way) is Adam Elrod, not Adam Cannon. Adam Cannon is the baritone. Hissong is a great group! Thanks for the review.

  2. Samantha Cannon wrote:

    Although I rarely ever agree with you…and didnt completely agree with you on this wasnt bad.. keep your eyes peeled. You’ll be hearing alot more from these boys, and expect a great move of God.Perfection isnt everything. Where man lacks, God takes over. isn’t that what it’s all about anyways? Getting the gospel out? who cares if it isnt perfect as long as it’s soaked in Gods amazing annointing!!!

  3. Hello? wrote:

    Paragraph 5:

    “Indeed at his weakest, [Avery] seems so enamored with the distinctive vocal sounds he can produce that he forgets to [proofread] his lines with consistent comprehensibility.”

  4. NoNamePerson wrote:


    Sometimes you need to talk about the graphic design too! I would LOVE to hear your thoughts on the graphic design on projects!!


  5. James wrote:

    YOU Have way TOOO Much time.. on your hands.. to sit around and Pick ppl in the industry apart.. NEWS FLASH for you.. NO ONE CARES what you have to say… BC EVERYONE that knows YOU CANT STAND YOU.. and TRUST me…. YOUR REVIEWS MEAN NOTHING… SO here is a Review for you.. Your a SELF-ABSORBED Bitter OLD MAN… that is JEALOUS of Every GOSPEL ARTIST who has a Sucessful Career..WHILE YOUR still sitting behind your PC trying to make yourself feel better or Important by ripping ppl apart.. Seriously GET A LIFE and LEAVE EVERYONE ALONE.. and dont pull out that card.. FREEDOM OF PRESS.. GET OFF THE CROSS .. we need the WOOD

  6. No Regrets wrote:

    I have read reviews before that I disagreed with, but this one takes the cake. You are about the most arrogant person I’ve come across in a long time. You obviously have such a high opinion of yourself that no one else could possibly measure up. Does an album have to be SO “Perfect” that it would put most of us to sleep or drive us to tears from shear boredom (like your review did) before it would measure up to your standards?

    I love this project. “Through Every Storm” and “I Still Have It All” are the two BEST songs on there (but that’s my opinion). And following closely behind is “The Grave Can’t Hold Me” (which you misspelled in your review). I’ve seen HisSong in person many times and each time I was blessed. This group is anointed and they have a true heart for ministry, which IS what it’s all about. Are you SO wrapped up in yourself that you have forgotten about the ministry? God bless!

  7. Nola wrote:

    HisSong is one of the finest groups I’ve ever heard and I’ve been around Southern Gospel music for 40 years. I don’t know who you think you are that you are so supperior but you are 100% wrong on this one. You obviously wouldn’t know good talent if it slapped you in the face, and at this point I think you need slapped you in the face. You need to get your head out of the dictionaries and thesauruses looking up all those $20 words and get your head in the Bible. God didn’t say he would call the qualified, but that he would qualify the called. Those who can, SING. Those who can’t, criticize.

  8. Libby wrote:

    Well I have heard it all now Mr know it “not: all. I read your stupid reviews and you haven’t gotten a one of them right. I have been in the Southern Gospel Industry in the recording business. All you know to do is try to tear down a singer or group.

    I know you better than you think I do and have lived not very far from you. You couldn’t sing if your life depended on it because I have heard you try.
    Your not a Christian and you don’t even know what ministry is. I seen HisSong a couple times in person and I own the CD which I listen to in my car everyday. Your going to be judged at judgement. Not only that but when you wrote the bad things about Jason Waldrop and now HisSong you have gone too far. HisSong one of the most talented trio’s in southern gospel music and it only shows your jealousy to groups and soloist. You know nothing about southern gospel music and I am also going to post this on my webstie to beware of you and to tell people that your a bitter idiot that doesn’t have a heart and definitely doesn’t know music. Your opinion means nothing to anyone else. I also wanted to let you know that HisSong has recorded more albums than 3. Learn more about Gospel Music and you will know and also if I recall the song The grave cant hold me was the 1st release and I think it went top 10 or close to it. I have heard I still have it all on radio for the past 3 months and I looked in the singing news magazine and it is 10. Do you think that radio dj’s don’t know great music? Well if you think they don’t then your wrong. They know great music and that’s why the song is in the singing news top 10. Maybe you should do a research on gospel music and go back to music school because you didn’t learn a thing. Also, go to Jenny Craig and lose some weight and get a face lift because I know what you look like and from a womans point of view, you are dog ugly. How does it feel to be judged? Your not Simon Cowell although I am sure you have the hots for him. See I know more about you than you could ever know.


  9. Not You!!!! wrote:

    Well first off, Id like to know who you are, to sit behind your computer and criticize these fine artists out here that are working hard to deliver the gospel of Jesus Christ???

    You try and tear these southern gospel groups apart, and the only reason you do so, is because southern gospel tore you apart, according to what Ive heard, you tried to make in the very same industry that you tear apart, and got no where cuz you suck… just like you suck on your reviews, you try and feed the public information, that you only have a glimpse of, and dont have any real facts.

    HisSong is in my opinion, one of the best southern gospel groups out here, that are well blessed with their ministry, for God knows their are doing it for Him.

  10. Jim E. Davis wrote:

    I’m still chuckling over the seemingly intentional misspell of “The Grave Can’t Hole Me”. SG writers love a play on words but that might be stretching it.

    Great review - now I’m going to have to buy the project even if it’s just to hear the Hemphill tunes again. Is it Hemp-hill or Hem-phil? Always wondered.

  11. james' brother wrote:

    I got a question or two for you… why is it your place to judge all of these people? Do you even sing for yourself? You need to stop critiquing all of these people. God gave them talents and if you are criticizing them then you are criticizing God.

  12. Revpaul wrote:

    “The Grave Can’t Hole Me”? Oh yes it can!

  13. CG wrote:

    What did I miss?

    I read your review about HisSong and called a couple of friends to tell them about the GREAT review Avery gave these guys!

    I have followed these guys since their formation out of Heirline. They’ve been to my church. I live in Adam Elrod’s hometown and even remember him working at the local Bi-Lo. I’m proud of these success they they seem to be achieving and the recognition they’re getting, ESPECIALLY from Avery.

    Some of you posters need to become familiar with the writings of Avery before you torch him! This was a GREAT (and accurate) industry review from one of SG’s top writers about the group that many of us LOVE!!!

  14. T wrote:

    You people are crazy. What do you expect from someone who has their own website and is reviewing an album and telling you what he thinks! It’s a review of his personal opinion. Just because he doesn’t give every album 4 or 5 stars like over at, you get all up in arms because he is “bashing” your favorite group.

    Get over it. And if you don’t care what he has to say that why do you keep coming here and reading what he blogs about?

    Oh i know, here is what will make you happy, Doug can just give every album he reviews the highest mark, because that would be helpful in finding new music to listen to.

    This is again another example of why Southern Gospel Music cannot rise up to the level of other types of music.

  15. Trent wrote:

    I’m convinced that commenters 5-9 are all the same person who just kept coming back to the site for one more comment under a different name. Apparently, they (he/she?) are unable to see that much of the review was complimentary of HisSong.

    Avery, great review. This genre needs more analysis that takes a look at the singing and song selections in such a scholarly manner. However, your review wasn’t just scholarly, but also talked about how the music made you feel, which makes your comments even more rich and meaningful.

  16. Marty Funderburk wrote:

    I also thought the review was very generous and constructive. It made me want to buy the project. If Avery had called into question the groups’ motivations for doing what they do - THAT would have been “judgmental.” The “J” word is thrown around by those who apparently don’t understand its meaning. Avery is not pronouncing judgement on anyone - he’s voicing his opinion on their art - on his personal blog. I produce albums for a living, which means that I’m constantly stopping singers and telling them what I think they did poorly and what they could do to make it better. I’m actually paid to criticize them. It makes them better, and it makes their finished product better. But, by some definitions (see above) my criticisms make me the most judgmental of all. Those who question Avery’s motivations go far beyond what they’re accusing Avery of in the first place - and by doing so, are clearly being….shall I dare say it…judgmental. If you don’t agree with the review, ignore it. What good does it do to chastise someone for their opinion? Doing so lends even more credence to their perceived power, and defeats your purpose. While I don’t agree with everything Avery says, I typically learn something and leave with a challenge to sharpen my skills. In fact, I was one of the writers of HisSong’s first single from this project, “I Still Have it All,” and not until I read this review did I ever stop to consider the fact that the first lines of the verses do indeed sound like another song. Did it make me angry that Avery pointed that out? Absolutely not. It causes me to be all-the-more careful the next time I write a song.

  17. Nola wrote:

    Trent - I am definately not the same writer as #5-6, or #8-9, so that just goes to show what you know.

  18. TL wrote:

    Has anyone heard how the concert went last night in Alabama with Mark Trammell Trio and the “new group”.( Former members of Mercy Mark with brothers Chris and Craig West,Feemster and Brent on tenor.

  19. SGFAN65 wrote:

    Doug - I think you hit everything RIGHT ON MARK with your reviews, comments, etc. It’s a shame that “better than thou, much holier than thou - hypocrites” think and feel that constructive criticism is wrong. I commend you for your stand and your clarity all along that all of your comments - are derived from your “Opinion”. If these people that retaliate with such bitterness didn’t deep down know that what you say is pretty much 99% true and correct, they would not get all bent out of shape. If they don’t like what you say - then why the heck do they keep coming back and reading what you write ? I am “addicted” to this blog - and look forward to it everyday - it’s the first thing I check each morning -after the bank to make sure I am not overdrawn, and the obits to make sure I am still alive and not listed among the dead !
    Doug - you’re doing a great job - keep it up and never change !

    On a side note - I do enjoy HIssong and wish them continued success ! They’re still relatively young men - they’ve got some maturing to do yet - but they are well on their way !

    If you don’t like what Doug writes - then don’t come back to the site ! Some of you are just looking for a reason to bicker and complain.

    I couldn’t agree more with what
    “T” = #14 wrote - “This is again another example of why Southern Gospel Music cannot rise up to the level of other types of music” - Why shouldn’t SG artists receive constructive criticism and strive to be better.

    The poster “Libby” sounds like a bitter, very bitter person - who apparently has a series of issues of her own…..she’s the one that needs to get in touch with God and get things in her own life under control !!

  20. CVH wrote:

    I find it interesting, and at times, somewhat annoying, that people who have nothing constructive to add feel the need to inject themselves into an otherwise meaningful dialogue. It’s one of the downsides of free speech and blogs. But, like speed bumps and Billy Mays info-commercials, they’re part of life.

    I’ve been in positions like Marty’s for years where your job is to help others reach their best potential. I would usually hesitate to judge a person’s motives or heart, but I never hesitate to critique their art. If they’re going to do it and put it out in the public square, it’s subject to any and all criticism. What the less discerning fans (and readers of this blog) don’t get is that it’s not only a right to offer criticism, it’s a responsibility for the sake of the art and the underlying purpose behind it. And not all criticism is negative.

    On the other hand, if you insist on sharing your deep thoughts with the rest of us, at least learn how to spell and properly conjugate verbs every now and then.

  21. Canuk wrote:

    I’m not sure what I missed.

    After I read the review, I googled the group and am considering ordering the album- especially after listening to some of the clips for myself.

  22. Wade wrote:

    The Funniest thing from this tread is… People getting their panties in their crack and get WAY vicious telling Doug he is out of his mind, he needs to go to Jenny Craig, he can’t sing. He failed at SGM. Threats of Physical Violence. He shoots bad singers out behind his house… he drives around DUI going to SGN concerts and he’s is going to hell… then they end up with God Bless YOU… you need to get in the Bible… you have forgotten the ministry… thats FUNNY… those Holier people who know BEST cause they found half a bible verse that supports them. All the time forgetting that this is AN OPINION… a review… very encompassing pains taking review & a BUSINESS!!!

    In MY OPINION IT IS THESE MEALY MOUTHED, GOSSIPING, BACKSTABBING, HOLIER HYPOCRITES that causes the biggest problems in the industry. If you think that review was bad you should have a private instructor or REAL HONEST FRIENDS that will tell you the truth… THAT CAN BURN deep… but you have to be constantly improving or you slide backwards. That review was kind as compared to what you hear in the secular world. But there everybody KNOWS you are there for the MONEY and you can’t HIDE BEHIND MINISTRY to excuse poor performance.

    I Bet the same ones that are gutting Doug are the same types that did not like EHSSQ last week.

    Maybe next they will threaten not to read it any more and GET IN THE BIBLE… and find out where the word SUCKS is located…FROM WHAT THEY HAVE HEARD !!! IS THAT GOSSIP???LoL;-))))) Or the BEST ONE… NOBODY CARES WHAT YOU SAY…while they rip a cap riddled response to the review… if NOBODY CARES why you so wacked out by it????

    Thanks for the entertainment though!!! I have not had to watch as many cable access ministry shows as much to hear bad singing they are doing FOR THE LORD!!!


  23. Aaron wrote:

    #13 (CG) wrote that he or she knew Adam when he worked at the Local BI-LO… UHH get Your Facts str8 HE never worked for BI-LO.. I would know that bc I am ADAM’s Brother… and Im just going to throw this out there… AVERY.. What I find is Funny.. is that you wont show yourself.. or make it known who you are… or where you live… BC your scared… Bc you know that you have Pissed off every gospel act and have no friends in this industry. and you try to save your butt by saying this is just “MY OPINION”.. well ok.. I will buy that.. I talked to Adam this morning about what you have Said… on the reviews.. and His Words were this.. “WE must be doing something Right for GOD, FOR the DEVIL to try and tare it DOWN”.. HisSong Does not listen to what you have to say, bc Nothing you say is Helpful… so You just wasted probably an hr of your life, reviewing a cd for NOTHING.. NOW dont you feel Stupid.. and For all the OTHER gospel artist out there… Adam said… Dont pay attention to what “AVERY” has to say… just ignore him…. and Here is a Question for you AVERY… How many lives have you Touched with GODS love with your reviews? bc as a sinner myself.. after reading what you wrote.. if that is what Christianity is all about, then I dont want no part of it.. Whose blood will be required at your hands on the day of judgment… Think about that… and tell me where its in the word of GOD..that what your doing is RIGHT with GOD….

  24. T wrote:

    I was literally laughing out loud when I read what Aaron wrote.

    Oh man what better way to show that you don’t care about what Doug says than to spend so much time writing a comment about how you don’t care.

    It was a constructive review!!!! If you cannot take constructive criticism than you will never get better at what you do.

    I am about to graduate from College. How about instead of grading everyone’s work on whether it is correct or not, we just give everyone A’s and graduate everyone no matter their abilities or knowledge. Yeah that seems right.

    And if I hear one more time that critical review of something is not Christian I am going to scream. Again this goes back to if you are singing for God you shouldn’t view their ability critically and is another reason that SGM is as amateurish as it is.

    PS. This is a Period “.” It is usually used to signal the end of a sentence in English written language. This is just dots “..” and makes you sound even more manic than just your simple words would have.

  25. karl wrote:

    Re: #8,
    If Libby represents those involved in the SGM industry, it makes me want to rethink ever purchasing any SGM. There are so many problems with what she said, not the least of which is her “your not a Christian” claim. Nevermind her poor ability to write and spell. Why is SGM going down the tube? Because of people like #8.

  26. GH wrote:

    Most of the folks that are complaining about this review have obviously never been here before. Avery’s review actually made me want to check out the entire CD of Hissong. Thanks Avery for sharing your true feelings and opinion. Southern gospel music never needs to lose its focus on Christ, but it also could use a lot more honesty. God bless Hissong and congratulations on surviving a review in which most groups would have faired much worse.

  27. Adam wrote:

    Hey everyone, This is Adam better known as “Elrod”. I just heard about the review, and Was Greatful that (AVER) actually thought highly enough of us to review our new cd.”On the way up”. Thank You for the Review. Every artist that does a new cd and after listening back to it.. You yourself will sit and pick the cd apart yourself.. I know this bc I have done it. Such as.. I should have done this or I should have done that.. but its all good, you finished the cd and ppl like it and you still have a sense of Pride of knowing that you Did your best and not at all disappointed. Im not Angry with the review.. But I will say.. I dont totally agree with everything he has said, but that is ok, In a way, this review is accurate on my part. You can talk to Kevin Ward and Wayne Haun who is OUR producers, and they will tell you that I do have a problem with diction and pronunciating my words clearly, TRUST me they would know, they have heard me at my but They push me to be better.. and I am greatful of that. and with this review, it has made me want to improve on my singing.. Thank you again for the review. and as for the rest of the review, I myself thought the guys Dennis and Cannon did a fantastic job singing, I know they workd hard, bc I was there in the studio with I am very proud of them and very Honored to be standing on stage with them every night.. I love their songs on the cd, I listen to theirs and wont listen to mine. so haveing said that, I think these guys are the bomb..
    Go buy the cd.. at and hear the cd for yourself… HA ha… ok I will stop now Thanks for the review..

  28. Wade wrote:

    Wish Libby would let us know her site??? come on Libby lets see whatya got?? I am going to request prayer for you that The Lord would deliver you from the demons that have a hold on you!!! God Love Your Heart!!! LoL;-))))

    5-9,11,23 can all get together go hear BAD Gospel Music & GET A BLESSIN’. Libby could announce it on her site. Bless Their Heart!!! LoL ;-))))

  29. Butch wrote:

    Wow! everybody should got their string pulled on this one. I’d suggest you don your caps and go out back and mow some grass. Speaking of donning your caps, what is up with Michael Hopper wearing a cap on stage while drumming. Is he stealing a page from Ben Isaac? It seemed a little weird. Maybe got the wrong color on his hair dye or something.

  30. quartet-man wrote:

    Without having heard the project, when I read the review, I saw a balanced review. The good things made me want to hear for myself. It is so easy to find solace when we are criticized or have problems to blame it on the devil for trying to stop God’s work. Although satan does do just that,
    I think we give him more credit than he deserves. He might have used the review to pick at sensitive places in Hissong’s feelings, but that is more in their reaction to it, than the review itself.

    God wants us to make a joyful noise, but if we perform, sell tickets, sell recordings and such, we open ourselves up to criticism since we are separating ourselves from corporate worship. Now, criticism CAN be men spirited, and should not be, but I didn’t see that here. I saw Doug telling honestly how he feels. You may disagree. That is fine. Use the criticism constructively, or disagree and don’t. Can you cook five star meals? If not, are you equipped to tell a chef that his meal wasn’t good? Have you criticized a pastor? I am sure that most do not have seminary training and of course since they are doing God’s work, do we have a right to complain? Hmmm.

  31. quartet-man wrote:

    Sorry, typing error. I mean mean-spirited. :)

  32. Steven wrote:

    I just finished reading, no, not reading, deciphering your accumulation of misspelled words and apparent hate of the button on the keyboard with a comma on it. My goal of this post, however much I would like it to be, is not to tear apart your grammatical skills (or lack there of).

    I believe almost every comment above has been written by either: fans, supporters, and friends of HisSong (with their own individual opinions and style, much like your own “Doug”) or by self-proclaimed “addicts” of Avery.

    1) Serving to improve or advance; helpful: constructive criticism.
    2) Of or relating to construction; structural.

    Any regular reader of this website/blog knows not to expect an overwhelming amount of positive opinion about southern gospel music from this source (i.e. articles on Jeff & Sherry Easter, Jason Waldrop, Kim Hopper, the list goes on and on). The First Amendment of the Constitution, however, gives “Doug” the right to express his opinion his way.

    Opinion aside, definition is fact. To say that this is an article of “constructive criticism” is not only inaccurate but laughable. To be fair, the headline of Avery never claims to be constructive, but simply criticism.

    “Criticism and commentary on southern gospel music and culture.”

    And criticism it is. Searching hard enough thru the grammatical apocalypse of this article one could find an artistic and well expressed, journalistic view of an individual’s opinion. The article approaches some very good points but with the same finess of landing an F-22 Raptor fighter plane into a commercial airport. You’re reaching your destination, but your purpose is still attack.

    In closing, this review (as with all personal reviews) had some strong valid points as well as comments that were specifically engineered to ruffle some feathers. By today’s standards, that’s simply good journalism. Take it for what it’s worth, an opinion. A wise person told me once told me:

    “Opinions are like armpits. Everyone has a couple but most of them just stink.”

  33. quartet-man wrote:

    P.S. Adam, I had not seen your post when I typed mine. :)

  34. Jen wrote:

    Its all about the ministry and call God inspires on these young artists who are able to deliver the message through music!! Don’t forget thats its not about tone and pitch but about personality and charisma that brings the gospel in song!! You downgrade and pick at all these artists? Then u pick on God!! I’m sorry young fellow but i feel sorry for you in that regard!! They don’t sing to sound pretty my friend! They sing for Jesus Christ!!

  35. Casual Observer wrote:

    Jen - I now understand why there’s so much crap on SG radio…

  36. Jen wrote:

    casual observer- lol ok…u tell me what Southern Gospel is about! I’m very interested in what u have to say:) You stand so high and mighty proud on ur comment there!!

  37. DanD wrote:

    Some people miss the message because they are too busy checking the spelling.

  38. quartet-man wrote:

    #34 Can’t they do both? If they are singing for Jesus Christ (and I certainly are not implying they are not) would they not want to give their best? (Which is different for each person, but most can improve and learn.)

  39. Ethan wrote:

    If Doug is going to try to review an album a week this summer, this site will be very interesting considering how upset some are with this review.

  40. BobB wrote:

    Poster #2: “who cares if it isnt perfect as long as it’s soaked in Gods amazing annointing!!!”

    (If it’s truly soaked in God’s amazing annointing, then it’s going to pretty-near perfect!)

    Poster #34: “They don’t sing to sound pretty my friend! They sing for Jesus Christ!!”

    These two comments attempting to justify mediocrity will not fly on this web site.

  41. Casual Observer wrote:

    Jen - forgive my coarse language in my previous comment - but, based on your earlier comment, musicality doesn’t matter. My Bible tells me to “play skillfully upon the harp…” I agree that the spiritual component is always paramount. No one is calling into question the boys’ hearts or motives. It should go without saying that if a person pursues a career in Gospel music, they are doing it to further the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But if, as you say, “they don’t sing to sound pretty” and it’s not about “tone and pitch” - then I’m never going to another choir rehearsal at my church (we don’t need to sound pretty). The gospel of Jesus Christ deserves our very best. That’s why people study music in college, and in singing schools, and take voice lessons. The Scripture warns against putting second-rate sacrifices on the altar (how dare I offer God that which costs me NOTHING). When we drag into church and stand up to sing just any old song on our heart - with no preparation - the world looks at us and determines that WHAT we are singing about must not be important because of HOW we are singing about it. If the gospel is not worthy of excellence, then how is it worthy of our life’s devotion. That doesn’t mean that everyone has to be a virtuoso, but it does mean that we should commit ourselves to a life-long pursuit of being the very best we can be musically. I hear a lot of stuff on SG radio that, quite frankly, embarrasses me. I wouldn’t want my unsaved friends to hear it, lest they mock the gospel of Christ because of the messengers. Anything done for Christ should be a hundred times better than anything done for lesser causes. While Avery may ruffle a few feathers, he also holds our feet to the fire. Beneath it all, I believe he loves SG music and wants to jar it from its slumber.

  42. Brittni wrote:

    Why in the world is everyone complaining about a, all things considered, fairly good review? Did I completely miss something?? I’ve heard this CD and I think it’s great! For the most part I agree with Doug, although there are definitely points he made that I disagree with. That’s ok though! There’s nothing wrong with disagreeing with someone’s opinions. Just because you don’t agree with what was said does not make it wrong or judgemental. My word! I think it’s safe to assume some of you would have never made it on a debate team. haha! (And I mean that in a nice, non-sarcastic way….just to clarify lol)

  43. BUICK wrote:

    Adam, that was a joke…right?

    “You can talk to Kevin Ward and Wayne Haun who is OUR producers, and they will tell you that I do have a problem with diction and pronunciating my words clearly…”

    “Who IS our producers”???
    “pronounciating my words”???

    Tell me this is a joke and not just appalling grammar from someone who, for a living, communicates the Word of God in song.

    It IS a joke…right??

  44. Aaron Swain wrote:


  45. Aaron Swain wrote:

    Also, Brent is just filling in till they find a tenor.

  46. Mike McIlwain wrote:

    Brent seems to fit in well with the group. He would be a good addition. It will be interesting to see who joins them on a full-time basis.

  47. Aaron Swain wrote:

    #46: I thought the same thing. However, Brent has prior engagements that won’t allow him to join this new group.

  48. art wrote:

    Hoo boy. Just when I thought this site was getting a little dull…

    Note to Avery: Keep the reviews coming.

    Note to Avery’s critics: Keep reading and keep those flame throwers oiled up. This is hilarious.

    Note to both Avery and his critics: It wouldn’t hurt to do a little self-editing for spelling and clarity before posting.

    Thanks for all the laughs.

  49. Jean Moses wrote:

    I would like to respond to Quartet Man…Yes, they can do both and yes I am sure even the group themselves realizes there is ALWAYS room for improvement.

    I recently attended a funeral of a personal friend of HisSong’s and they were asked to sing. They gladly agreed even though each of them had some allergy issues that day. The group was discussing what song to sing and Adam Elrod’s voice by his standards was not up to par to sing as he felt he should. Someone mentioned to him that it would be OK!! Adam stated that he was ALWAYS taught to do his BEST in whatever setting but especially at someone’s funeral because he would be singing them into Heaven.

    The entire group strives for perfection in every aspect of what God has called them to do. I have heard Dennis many times quote the scripture that that says “Whom God Calls He Equips”. The gentleman are definately equipped to garner a #10 single and equipped when you hear them in concert, on the radio or your personal cd player to deliver what the writter of the song has written and deliver it to usher the listener into the the presence of God.

    Thank You….

  50. website design wrote:

    Most of the folks that are complaining about this review have obviously never been here before. Avery’s review actually made me want to check out the entire CD of Hissong. Thanks Avery for sharing your true feelings and opinion. Southern gospel music never needs to lose its focus on Christ, but it also could use a lot more honesty. God bless Hissong and congratulations on surviving a review in which most groups would have faired much worse.

  51. Gradie Hartley wrote:

    #50…..Great post…almost as good as #26…nevertheless, i do agree with you…

    Casual Observer #41 - great observation…I wish everyone who ever did anything for the “glory of the Lord” felt the same way. If they did, gospel music would be much better than we could ever imagine. Oh yeah…it would be reaching a lot more souls as well.

  52. Adam wrote:

    # 43BEWIC.. Yeah I misspelled all that on propus. bc If you cant understand what i was saying.. then I dont think Im the one with the big problem…

  53. Adam wrote:

    Yeah I had to laugh about that.. comon ppl.. take a joke.. Im on a laptop on a moving bus.. you do the math..lololol

  54. Grigs wrote:

    I don’t know if Avery should have reviewed this album or not. He didn’t know these guys from Adam…

    A few requests: Please refrain from calling Avery “old man” or make remarks about his weight. He is younger than me, I believe, and I probably outweigh him by 45 pounds, so you can imagine how this makes me feel.

    If I’m a member of Hissong, I’m thrilled by this free publicity. Honestly, I’m really interested in hearing the title cut after reading the review.

    It’s Hemp-hill, not Hem-phill IIRC.

  55. Tele D. Trooth wrote:

    This is only a casual observation, and of course my own opinion. I do hope my sentence structure and spelling are up to par.

    Hissong has a wonderful sound. The many times I have seen them in person they have exhibited a very high standard of “showmanship”, which is vital and most importantly, MINISTRY, which is (or should be) the very CORE of Gospel music. You will be hard-pressed to find tighter harmony and higher energy out there these days.

    Having said that, the review was fair and balanced, to borrow a phrase from the Fox network. Perhaps if Doug had been reviewing “Hissong: Live from Heaven” he could be chastised for his remarks that were deemed to be negative. Otherwise, he was strictly being objective and truthful and statitng his own opinion. In America, and especially on his own website, I believe he has that (at least) right.

    Those who attack “Avery” in the name of Hissong actually do little to further the ministry of Hissong; and truth be known, likely cause a bit of embarrassment to the group. To me, it looks a bit like a “Christian” blowing up an abortion clinic; all “in the name of Jesus”.

    I do hope this post, being strictly my opinion and very neutral, does not incite a barrage of tongue-lashing. There is one last thing I would like to mention, since we all like to vent our own pet peeves: reading posts that have been typed in cellphone “text talk” is a bit annoying.

    “Aside from that Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?”

  56. Tele D. Trooth wrote:

    Yep, I did it…I mispelled “stating”…

  57. RDB wrote:

    This is hilarious. I haven’t had such fun reading in months. #5 had me rolling on the floor . . . prolly unintentionally.

  58. FW wrote:

    I think that Doug’s review was very well-written. Come on, folks, just because he is a Christian, does he have to say “Wow, love it! YAY for HisSong!” Oh, maybe “u” are upset “bc” he didn’t write in your oh-so-annoying text talk. Who ARE you people and how did you ever graduate to the real world?

    And singing doesn’t have to sound pretty? That is a great excuse for bad singers to buy a bus and hit the road, flogging their crappy CDs on unsuspecting audiences because, after all, it’s crap for Jesus! People that believe that lie are the main reason that SG will never be perceived by the general listening public as anything other than country music’s redneck, overall-wearing, spoon-playing, “kid from Deliverance” cousin.

    p.s. Wade and BUICK, great posts.

  59. LuckyDog wrote:

    Hey Doug, will you PLEASE review our latest CD? I must warn you, however, if you are negative, you will surely BURN in YOU-KNOW-WHERE!! Ha!

  60. sockpuppet wrote:

    #4 Aaron Crisler,
    Other than Hissong, what other CD graphics that you’ve designed are you particularly proud of?

  61. SG Singer wrote:

    I think that #41 Casual Observer’s comment, is the best that I have read. There is plenty of stuff played on sg radio that should have never left the studio. In other words, it is not any good! I think that any review is good for the artist. The best thing is, it shows you were you need improvement. The next is, it gives you exposure. Read how many comments say ” I want to buy this CD because of this review”. I’m sure Hissong will gladly take the orders. So if you like the CD, by all means, enjoy it. If you don’t, just endure it.

  62. Let'sBeHonest wrote:

    I don’t fully agree with this review, but the writer did give positive as well as negative points. What I didn’t appreciate was the snarkiness of some of his remarks. For example: “Elrod seems so enamored with the distinctive vocal sounds he can produce that he forgets to sing his lines with consistent comprehensibility.”
    How can you tell, from simply listening, if someone is “enamored” with their own voice? That definitely smacks of jealousy and is an attack on the singers character (insinuating that he is vain). Why couldn’t you just say that you thought he wasn’t always easy to understand? One could say that you sound rather enamored with your flowery style of writing. Just Sayin’.
    For the record, I AM enamored with Adam’s voice. He is amazing! All three are excellent singers and sound just as good live as they do on their albums. Color me impressed & blessed.

  63. reviews gossip news wrote:

    I believe everything said was actually very reasonable.
    But, think about this, suppose you wrote a catchier post title?
    I mean, I don’t want to tell you how to run your blog, but what if you added a title to possibly grab a person’s attention? I mean Avery is kinda boring. You should glance at Yahoo’s home page and note how they create news titles to get viewers to click. You might add a video or a related picture or two to grab people excited about everything’ve written. Just my opinion, it might make your posts a little bit more interesting.

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