It’s slow at the top

Our story so far: The five six horsemen of the megareview recently reviewed the Booth Brothers new CD, Declaration. For the most part the review’s a good ole fashion joyful-noisey praisefest for the greatness of southern gospel in general and the brilliance of the Booth Brothers and Lari Goss in particular.

But near the end of the review (scroll way down … and you thought I blathered on as a reviewer!), Brandon Coomer makes an insightful point about the pacing and mix of songs on the project.

I have a feeling that I’m going to be the lone dissenting voice when I say that I like the pieces (individual tracks) more than the project as a whole.

[snip]

I think a large part of [the issue] is a lack of fast songs on the project. If the big orchestrated songs were interspersed more with uptempo tracks, I think I would have enjoyed the project a lot more.

Well said. In a general response to the tagteam review, Michael Booth touched upon this last point about the albums mix of songs, or lack thereof. Essentially he conceded the point about the album being a big wall of elaborately orchestrated power ballads:

It’s too heavy for simple listening. My mother said that is wears her out to listen to all of it. It does the same to me also. We knew that this would happen. The problem, as one of you said, is that it is an in-your-face-ballad, lyrically-heavy recording. I agree!

Points for honestly (which is Booth’s refreshing, default position as far as I can tell in my interactions with him). For real. But then there’s this:

The problem was that it was almost impossible to find up-tempo songs that could hang with the ballads on this recording. To ask the average SG up-tempo song to stand beside one of these diamonds would certainly prove to be unfair and would diminish the purpose of a fresh sonic approach. However it was made more challenging to record an up-tempo that would be palatable to our current audience and sonically fit with the Goss ballads. This was one of our greatest musical challenges in our entire career. We “almost” did it. I think at the least ONE more up-tempo would have helped—BUT then we would get into higher production cost, royalties etc. At some point ya just gotta stop! Also…. I just couldn’t find another uptempo song. Not at the time anyway.

Color me unconvinced. I mean, I’m not saying this isn’t the way he sees and experienced the situation. But this is the Booth Brothers, arguably the most popular act in southern gospel today. Not only do they have access to every major writer in the business (to say nothing of their own wunderkind, Jim Brady). But for their ballads, they appear to have mined every schmaltzy inspirational album from the 90s to get what they wanted. And yet they decided to go ahead with a project that even Booth’s mother deems unlistenable at a single sitting? There haven’t been even a couple of more uptempos written in the last 20 years that would serve their purposes?  Hmm.

I guess it’s just not clear to me why it didn’t occur to the Booths to do what other artists of their stature do when they can’t find songs –  postpone until you do find the songs that work not just by themselves but together as album. To be fair, southern gospel is broke out with higgedly piggedly song selection on albums with no discernible relationship between the content or concept of the tunes.

But still … it’s hard to believe the Booths couldn’t have found a mix of songs with better balance if they had really wanted to. Put out the word that you’re lacking something specific. One wonders if the pitch list clearly conveyed the group’s need or desire for uptempo tunes. Indeed, it would be interesting to know if the pitch list described any specific theme or type of song(s) the group was angling for at all.

Without any other information than this to go on, it’s hard to believe the most popular group in southern gospel couldn’t find one more uptempo song.

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Comments

  1. quartet-man wrote:

    From what I recall, he said that they spent a lot more on this project than normal (may have been 3 times more) and that at some point they had to say stop. I think the problem probably was that he didn’t want ANY of the ones on there to be sacrificed, but at the same point couldn’t justify spending more. It might also be that he loved those so much that nothing else would come close. I do agree that surely somewhere may have been a song that was suitable or could be written. I suppose in concert they can sprinkle in up tempo and people judge singles on the charts on a one by one basis.

  2. Tyler wrote:

    Yea, Quartet-Man is right. Read the rest of Michael’s comments. He implied that to cut another really good, uptempo tune on the album would have been prohibitively expensive after all that big-ballading.

  3. Nate Stainbrook wrote:

    Actually it was the six horsemen (Phil Boles was a contributor as well)

    I can’t speak for Mrs. Booth, but I do not find this album all that hard to listen too… It is a bit heavy in places, but I have no trouble listening to the entire album in one full setting…
    I tend to agree with the consensus that adding one more up-tempo song would have added to the effectiveness of the album… But I don’t think that not adding one more is a deal breaker for this CD… I predict it will be their best selling CD EVER… And that I would not be surprised to see it win a few awards…

  4. Wade wrote:

    I Produce Open Mic, Comedy and other Variety Shows & Concerts and after learning a HARD lesson one night when half the crowd got up & left after a Major Song Writer, I mean one you would see at The Blue Bird in Nashville, came one night and did 45 minutes of ballads. IT KILLED THE SHOW!!!

    So not singers can have 1 ballad for every 3 they sing!! One night when a singer/ Diva tried to ignore the rule. I killed her track, started the bumper music and give her THE HOOK!!!

    Singers think they get to show more depth singing BIG Slow songs… reminds me of how I rarely watch NEWS Channels. I equate Ballads to Bad News. Don’t remind me of EVERYTHING BAD… give me some HAPPY NEWS/ Songs!!

  5. jim wrote:

    I imagine the slower tempo is pentance for the “green bean caserole” lyric from an earlier release.

  6. Perplexed wrote:

    I’m a songwriter for the largest Southern Gospel publisher in the business and no one ever mentioned that The Booth Brothers needed fast songs for this project…in fact, I don’t recall a request for songs period.

  7. Alan wrote:

    This topic really shows just how subjective music is. I haven’t bought the new Booth Brothers CD yet, but I definitely will. My personal taste is such that I’ll very gladly listen to several heavy ballads. So many of the up-tempo songs I hear these days are vapid and nearly-meaningless. No doubt they’re crowd-pleasers, and fun to listen to in concert, when the overall punch is as much visual as it is the sound. But, for me, it’s always the meaningful, slower songs, whose lyrics grab me and hold me, that I’ll gravitate to.

    So, one mans’ opinion, kudos to the BB for taking a fairly unusual step in sgm. I hope this project sells well.

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