Ray Holland & the New Boyz of Triumph
Keep On Running
Sharp Records (release date: May 23, 2019)
By Bob Marovich
With notable exceptions (e.g., Thomas Spann of the Brooklyn All Stars), bass voices in gospel quartet have been gone for quite a while. That’s why it’s a delight to even hear a low baritone voice in a quartet.
That’s what you get with Ray Holland & the New Boyz of Triumph.
Keep on Running is the latest CD from the New Boyz of Triumph, a group that hails from Talladega, Alabama. Besides Holland, members are Wesley Haley, the Reverend Marvin James, and Ken Walker. The quartet delivers new and original songs with tight harmonies and a relaxed late-summer Sunday afternoon feel.
Haley and James are responsible for the original compositions and the arrangements of non-originals, all of which are done in the traditional gospel quartet style you hear at programs in the South and Southeast. The lyrics are tried and true pulpit wisdom. For example, the title track, which quotes from Ecclesiastes 9:11 (“the race isn’t given to the swift”), is a hard-hitting cut that preaches about persisting to the end, regardless of hard times and troubles. It moves with the groove of an A selection.
Seared with guitar riffs, “Unchanging Hands” is a compelling remake of Jennie Wilson’s 1906 composition and a staple in the gospel songbook for decades. Similarly, “Yes God is Real” is a rearrangement of Kenneth Morris’s classic song and is the album’s choicest selection.
The concluding track, “This World is Not My Home,” ties it all together by reminding the listener that despite all the trials and travails on earth, our true north is heaven.
Three of Five Stars
Picks: “Yes God is Real,” “Unchanging Hands”