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REVIEW: The Guardians – Come On In

Producer: John Darin Rowsey & Wayne Haun
Record Label: Daywind Records
Website: www.guardiansquartet.com

Over the last several years, The Guardians Quartet have consistently put out top quality music, and with each successive recording, they keep getting better and better.  Consisting of tenor, Dean Hickman, John Darin Rowsey singing lead, Scott Mullins on baritone and bass vocals provided by Pat Barker, they are one of the finest male quartet’s out on the road today.  I didn’t think they could beat their last recording, but they may have done it (or come awfully close) with this latest recording.  Produced by John Rowsey and Wayne Haun, “Come On In” features that big wall of sound the group is known for and features 8 songs co-written by Rowsey with such writers as Sue Smith, Karen Peck-Gooch, Daryl Williams, Dave Clark, Rodney Griffin and others.  It’s an excellent crop of songs, highlighting the sound that is distinctively “Guardians”.

The recording starts off with the title song, “COME ON IN”, which is actually a highly enjoyable medley featuring 2 old songs, “Come On In This House” and “Come and Go With Me”.  It’s a wonderful start to a great recording with it’s bright and happy feel coupled with its brass/strings infused track, before the tempo slows down a bit for the majestic and dramatic feel of, “NOT FOR LONG”, which is the first single release from the recording.  Featuring John, who wrote the song along with Karen Peck-Gooch and Sue Smith, it’s a great first single and is a wonderful reminder that whatever trial that you’re going through, it came to pass and that you will “walk in victory…circumstances may silence my song, but not for long!”

Pat is one of the few bass singers with a special gift of being able to effectively deliver great heartfelt lyrics in his upper range, and “WHAT YOU CAN’T REMEMBER” is a terrific example of that.  A highlight of the recording, this is a tremendous song of prayer and faith to “help me forget, what You can’t remember”.

With its thumping bass, the up-tempo, “HE’LL MOVE HEAVEN AND EARTH”, which features Dean, almost has the feel of “You’re the One that I Want” from the movie “Grease”.  I easily see this song being a fun novelty tune to sing in concert, as it’s a unique departure from the norm for the group.  It’s my least favorite song on the recording, but I am sure many will definitely enjoy the unique nature of the song.

Next, we come to the carefree feel of “CAST MY CARE”, which features Scott Mullins.  With horn accents, the song has a slight retro feel to it, but it’s a great inclusion to the recording and Scott does an excellent job on the song.

The tempo slows back down for the prayerful power ballad, “I NEED YOU”, which features John and reiterates our total reliance on the Lord, before the tempo picks up for the electric guitar infused track of “HEAVEN IS HAPPENING”, which features the charismatic vocals of Pat Baker.  I easily see this song hitting radio before this album is done, and it will no doubt be a concert favorite as well.

With its simple piano opening before the strings sweep in, Dean does a great job on the comforting, “REST IN HIM”.  Penned by John and former groupmate from his New Journey/New Song Revival days, Pam Hall, it’s a great song that leads perfectly into the Chuck Lawrence penned “HE GREW THE TREE”.  This was popular song back in the 80s, and Scott does a tremendous job reviving this classic tune.  I was thrilled when I saw this as one of the songs included here, and it is the triumph of the recording.  I always love it when groups bring back obscure gems like this and breath new life into them.  This song is just epic, and it’s my personal favorite from the recording.

“Come on In” closes out with the peppy big band feel of “SURELY HE DID”, which concludes the recording much like it started…bright and cheerful!  I love the “rink-a-tink” piano (as Henry Slaughter used to call it) in the song and it’s a perfect song to round out the recording on a feel-good note!

If you’ve followed the Guardians Quartet for the last several years, this recording doesn’t offer any surprises, but it’s the music we’ve all come to expect from the guys.  They are one of the few groups who have found a consistent formula that works for them, and like the old saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”  So as the title implies, “Come on In” and sit a spell, and enjoy a fabulous recording by the Guardians Quartet filled with big arrangements and heartfelt singing.

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