The Voices of Quartet Vol. 1
Overboard Records (2023)
By Robert M. Marovich
Few record labels today pay much mind to gospel quartets, despite the fact that quartet singing was the dominant sound of gospel’s golden age and maintains a presence in urban and rural areas nationwide, especially in the Southeast.
Among the few that do promote quartet today is Overboard Records. The Voices of Quartet Vol. 1 is the label’s sampler of some of the male and female quartets keeping the tradition alive. Released in partnership with Gospel Quartet Heritage and executive produced by Darrell Jay Jones and Sunsurray Wynn, the compilation gathers ten superb quartet selections spanning several years. Many of the groups have appeared in previous JGM reviews.
After an opening prayer by Elder George W. Stewart of the American Gospel Quartet Convention that sounds recorded off the telephone, the project proceeds at a brisk pace. Out of the gate come drive tempo tracks by Spiritually Anointed, Skylar Patterson & Predestined, and the McDuffies. They set the tone for what turns out to be a soul-stirring listening experience.
The anointed Ronica Bowers and the Blazing Stars deliver their fiery single from 2017, “Touch Me.” Darrell McFadden and the Disciples, arguably the best-known of the groups represented here, offer the spirited “He’s Here.” The Mississippi-based Crowns of Joy’s quizzically titled “Trumpology” is actually a seven-minute medley of some of the group’s most popular recordings. It was originally released on their 2015 Back to the Basics album. The Ziegler Family’s 2021 “Can’t Stop Now” showcases a quartet of energetic youth.
The collection’s production is solid and, with the exception of excessive synth in parts, the musicianship is tight and spot on. The lyrics reflect the old-fashioned revival-style instruction that has been quartet’s meat and potatoes messaging for decades.
Overall, The Voices of Quartet Vol. 1 is invigorating because it features more drive tempo tracks than any other collection. It bends toward the church-disrupting quartet singing that thrives in local programs and on indie recordings.
Four of Five Stars
Picks: “Touch Me,” “Can’t Stop Now.”