REVIEW: The Livingstons – Unexpected Journey

livingstons-unexpectedjourneyProducer: Kevin Ward and Denny Livingston
Record Label: Independent

I remember the first time I saw the Livingstons in person.  It was in March 2000 at the famous Reynolds Auditorium in Winston-Salem, NC.  I was already a fan having heard some of their music, but I loved them even more after I saw them in person.  During the mid to late 90s, they introduced our industry to some wonderful songs such as “Some Things Never Change”, “It’s Our Turn to Sing”, “I Made the Angels Rejoice”, “God is Greater than the Need”, “Making Plans for a Better Day”, “There’s Still Water in the Well”, “I Will Lift my Voice”, and many others.  Most, if not all, were penned by Denny Livingston and groups like the Nelons, Karen Peck & New River and the Kingsmen were picking up his songs.  Then, just as quickly as I discovered them and saw them live, they fell off the map.  Imagine my joy and surprise when I saw they were back together, albeit as a smaller family unit; still consisting of Denny and his wife Alonna, they are now joined by their daughter Brittany.  What’s more, Brittany has joined the ranks with her dad as songwriter, and both are writing great songs together.  With this recording, they are armed with powerful songs telling their story from the past 16 years and still singing that soulful style that is uniquely Livingston!

The first single from the recording is “WHERE I’VE BEEN” and the song tells a great story.  I love how the verses tell of the places we’ve been…sorrow, heartache, brokenness, loneliness, pain and so forth.  But then the chorus puts it all in perspective, “God’s been so good to me, found me right where I was, just when all hope was broken, made a way when there was no way, brought me out and healed my pain, I’m gonna take a little time to tell you just where I’ve been.”  The title song, “UNEXPECTED JOURNEY”, which features Alonna, picks up the message of “Where I’ve Been” and keeps it moving before Denny steps up to  sing the heartfelt, “THE PRODIGAL”, which is a highlight of the recording.

Brittany steps up to paint a wonderful picture of “GRACE” before Denny steps back up to sing, “HE’S ALL I NEED” which is stylistically “in the pocket” for the Livingstons.  They excel with the soulful sound and this song is perfectly soulful.  In keeping with that soulful vibe, Alonna sings “I JUST DON’T FEEL LIKE GIVING UP”.

Brittany steps back for the mid-tempo feel of “I’M TRUSTING” before things kicked up a notch for the retro-funk feel of “WHILE I’M WAITING”.

The tempo slows back down as Denny steps up to sing the tremendous song of hope, “THIS SIDE OF THE STORM” before Brittany and Alonna split solo’s on the soulful, “SAY BYE TO YOUR CHAINS”.

The recording closes out with a very fitting song for this time we’re living in.  The song, “PEOPLE NEED LOVE”, written months ago, is almost prophetic for the recent events in our country, and this up-tempo proclamation is a great way to end the recording.

It seems old groups are coming back up, fresh and new…Goodman Revival and the Perry Sisters are 2 recent examples.  Now we bring back the Livingstons!  This family is a welcomed re-addition to our vast array of talent in the SG family.  They have a lot to offer…a unique sound, heartfelt singing, wonderfully written songs that are flawlessly executed and a hunger to tell their story.  Grab a copy of this CD and let them tell you their story!  Don’t be surprised if these songs tell your story too!


Track Listing:
(stars denote personal favorites)

1 – Where I’ve Been**
2 – Unexpected Journey**
3 – The Prodigal**
4 – Grace
5 – He’s All I Need**
6 – I Just Don’t Feel Like Giving Up**
7 – I’m Trusting
8 – While I’m Waiting**
9 – This Side of the Storm
10-Say Bye to Your Chains
11-People Need Love

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James Hales
Head Reviewer at Absolutely Gospel
James Hales, from Durham, North Carolina, has been a writer for since 2000. James is our featured reviewer and also contributes to monthly features periodically.