Brian Mayes & Heaven Bound
I'll Always Be Grateful
This month the quartet spotlight shines on the brand new project from North Carolina based Brian Mayes & Heavenbound. This young group initially made a name for themselves while traveling with the Legendary Tommy Ellison & The Singing Stars. Their ability to capture the audiences attention with sincere joy and praise has earned them many engagements around the country. This new release from Heavenbound comes almost five years after their hit release "Depending on You Lord". This project is definitely quartet gospel in it's tone and arrangments. Having shocked the quartet industry with their hit selection "Sword & Shield" some years ago we joyfully report that this release has the same potential to bring Heavenbound widespread success.
The project opens in a slightly contemporary fashion with the beautiful title cut "I'll Always Be Grateful". While the song does borrow some elements from the late Martin Jacox's version with the Soul Stirrers it does maintain it's own character. Brian Mayes enters this opening selection with whisper like vocals, which stands as a striking contrast to his "Live" presence. The project then moves into something a little more akin to the Heavenbound style. Brian has quickly gained the reputation for presenting the hymns of the old church. Keeping with this tradition the group moves into the classic hymn "Somewhere Listening For My Name". Don't be fooled though this is no ordinary arrangement. With this selection the group definitely takes a page out of Keith "Wonderboy" Johnson & The Spiritual Voices style notes. This song comes complete with slick falsetto backgrounds and climactic breaks.
Another selection of note is the funky interpretation of "I'll Go". This song features some great bass grooves and spirited background vocals. Following on the heals of this selection is the beautiful ballad "Only What You Do". After hearing this ode to Christian work in the vineyard of our heavenly father, the listener begins to understand the overall tone of this project. Brian Mayes & Heavenbound have made it their business to pen selections that focus on our duty as Christians and the finality of God's Word and his promises. Each song seems to encourage the listener to work for the Lord and reminds us that everything that our Lord said he would do will come to pass. While the majority of the selections are slow ballads with an emphasis on the message there are two rockin' drive songs entitled "You Are The Answer" and "It' Just The Holy Ghost". These selections definitely have potential for being real house wreckers in the "Live" experience.
While the selections we have mentioned so far set a great standard, the best selection on the project actually comes from guest lead voice of Reginald Funderburke. Many will remember that "Reggie" has traveled with Heavenbound for some time but it has always been on an off and on basis. He is probably better known around the industry as the replacement to the late Martin Jacox in the Original Soul Stirrers with Willie Rogers. His interpretation of the beautiful ballad "I Know It Was You" is so slick you can hardly believe human voices are singing. This song has all the elements of becoming a hit with radio audiences and concert goers alike.
Another song of note on this project is the mid-tempo groove "Innocent". This song tells the story of our Lord and Savior's trail and unlawful treatment. This song serves to show the great love of our Lord who saw fit to hang on the cross and carry the weight of the world just for you and I. The project closes with the aforementioned drive song "It's Just The Holy Ghost". While this song does not have the serious down to business drive of "You Are The Answer" it is sure to put those shoutin' shoes into full effect.
On the whole this new release from Brian Mayes & Heavenbound is a good collection of quartet selections. While a little more variation on the lead vocals would have been good, the project on the whole has a solid sound with above average production. I give Brian Mayes & Heavenbound "I'll Always Be Grateful" a 7.5 out of 10. This project is available for purchase through the group's manager Mr. Ted Holland at (704) 892-6349.
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