Dissent of the day
I wonder if Gene MacDonald had been with Triumphant QT, if the appraisal of his performance would have been the same as Eric’s? Is it really the singer, or the group you don’t like.
A fair question, I think, even if I take exception with the (inadvertent?) implication that criticism of form and style are just flimsy fig leafs for some nasty personal agenda. Giving the commenter the benefit of the doubt that this was not what he intended (assuming instead he was asking if the group’s general ambient style – their sound but also their look and stage presence and the whole vibe, so to speak – doesn’t just rub me the wrong way in a way that doesn’t have as much to do with Bennett as I think), I’ve given a good deal of thought to the question on and off for the past few days. And … well, I have a few thoughts.
In the first place, it’s only arguably true at best that Eric Bennett and Gene McDonald are vocally interchangeable, which is the assumption underlying the commenter’s dissent. I don’t think they are interchangeable, and whether you agree with that or not, it can’t be that difficult to see how someone who does hear it my way would go on from there and also not be able to divorce that voice from the ensemble.
Like I said in my first post, I don’t think there’s anything technically wrong with Bennett’s voice. It just always seems to be featured in a way that comes off as oversinging. But it’s not just Bennett. Indeed – and this is and was the main point of the earlier post– I hear a version of this in at least Sutton and the elder Inman’s voice, a conscious effort at a vocal amplitude that hits my ear as too much. DBM thinks I’m selling them short as vocally shallow, but it’s not a lack of depth so much as too much density.
Why is that? I dunno. Could be all me, but since I’m not the only one who thinks so, that seems that unlikely. As I also tried, perhaps imperfectly, to say in that earlier post, there are probably habits and stylistic tendencies that we pick up from people we spend as much time with as guys in a quartet spend with one another – a principle that holds true in a lot of creative collaborations. Nothing wrong with that, mind you. But if that’s true, then Bennett’s voice is a microcosm of the group’s style as a whole, at some level.
I guess it’s possible there’s seem deep-set animus coloring my judgment here. I mean, I probably wouldn’t be any more – or less – socially compatible with these guys than I am any other off the rack southern gospel quartet, but I don’t blog out of some unstaunchable grief that Eric Bennett isn’t my best friend, and I don’t assume that’s the reason they sing either, so there’s just really no basis for locating some Dr. Evil scheme afoot here. But for the sake of argument, let’s say I DID dislike them for personal reasons. An uninitiated observer might look at your average fan’s behavior and conclude the basis for liking a group is just as purely personal too. Like, dislike: Flip side of the same coin if we’re going to argue from personal motives alone.
Now, I actually don’t think that’s true. At least I don’t think all the talk in southern gospel about the different vocal styles and arrangements people like and don’t like are just so much scrim for unsorted knot of personal animus and uncritical adoration. For one thing, southern gospel types have a very well established gift for blunt honesty. Why would they start redirecting away from truth on this one thing and not on every other? Stylistic tastes are the surface features of much more complex process of spiritual, religious, and emotional satisfaction we do (and often don’t) get from the music. Debating that stylistic stuff is a shorthand for the bigger stuff. Plus it’s just fun.
At least in my case, I have offered as clear an explanation as possible, in fairly depersonalized terms, for what I think accounts for what I think/feel about what I hear (allowing of course that there are elements of taste that there are no accounting for in all of us). And though very few of Triumphant’s fans have offered a similarly structured account of what they like about the group in the discussion below, I assume such an accounting is possible, nonetheless.
Now having done what I criticized Triumphant for doing - taking all the oxygen out of the room - I’m going to go get some air.Email this Post