Producer: Garry Jones
Label: Gaither Music Group
I’ve been a fan of Canton Junction since their inception, and was thrilled to hear about this new release, especially with it being a live recording. This is one of the most energetic live recordings I’ve heard in recent years. This is due in part to the live band, strong song selection and arrangements and energetic vocal delivery by all 4 men. Though it’s filled mostly with classic tunes, they are done exceptionally well and the crowd seems to enjoy what they are hearing. Though this was released on DVD and CD as well as most digital platforms, I am reviewing the audio/CD version of this release.
Things get kicked off right with energetic, “countryfied” renditions of the classic quartet favorites, “WE’LL SOON BE DONE WITH TROUBLES AND TRIALS” and “UP ABOVE MY HEAD”. Really showcasing some energetic performances, they’re highlights of the recording, as is the uptempo, “OLD PINE BOX”, which really showcases the fun you can have with a live band.
After a moving set up by Matthew Hagee and Gordon Mote, Gordon does an outstanding job on one of my all-time favorite songs, “JESUS WILL OUTSHINE THEM ALL”, before the group turns in an excellent performance on another one of my all-time favorites, “WHAT A MEETING IN THE AIR”.
With just Gordon at the piano, the guys belt out a marvelous, soulful rendition of the classic hymn, “I MUST TELL JESUS”. Featuring Casey and Tim on the second and third verses respectively, the song showcases these guys in great form, and is a highlight of the recording.
With some orchestrations mixed in, the guys turn in some great performances on the Gaither classic, “I’M FREE”, as well as the hymn, “I’D RATHER HAVE JESUS”, backed with “GREAT IS THY FAITHFULNESS”.
Things get kicked back into high gear with a rollicking rendition of “HEAVEN’S JUBILEE/I’LL FLY AWAY”. Next, we “meet the band” as they get a chance to shine. We get to enjoy a cool jam session as Gordon introduces each member of the band which includes Steve Brewster on drums, Duncan Mullins playing bass guitar, Garry Jones on keyboards, Jeff Key playing electric guitar, Joel Key strumming the acoustic guitar, Mike Johnson on steel guitar and of course, Gordon Mote on piano. These guys really are in the groove for almost 5 minutes and they really show off some outstanding musicianship.
As Matthew starts to bring things to a close, the guys sing another one of my favorite hymns, “DOES JESUS CARE”, before the group belts out the classic, “HOW GREAT THOU ART”, both of which are fully orchestrated.
Throughout the live recording, Matthew shares how the evening is a celebration of his dad, John Hagee, and his 60 years of ministry, which is the reason behind most of the song choices. The guys show great comradery between songs, which adds to the enjoyment of the concert. As much as I love orchestrated songs, and as awesome as the 4 orchestrated songs sound on here, they feel slightly out of place on this recording with the energy of the band on the other tunes. Nonetheless, this is one of my favorite releases for 2020 and it renews my faith that live albums are not a thing of the past and can be done with the same energy and excitement as the ones from the 1970s and 1980s. Thanks Canton Junction for capturing an exciting evening of music and praise!
(stars denote personal favorites)
We’ll Soon Be Done with Troubles and Trials**
Up Above My Head**
Old Pine Box**
Jesus Will Outshine them All**
What a Meeting in the Air**
I Must Tell Jesus**
I’d Rather Have Jesus/Great is Thy Faithfulness
Heaven’s Jubilee/I’ll Fly Away**
Does Jesus Care**
How Great Thou Art