Sunday, November 27, 2011

Soul Enriching Journey of McCrary Sisters

Singing comes naturally to the McCrary Sisters, daughters of the late Rev. Samuel McCrary --  one of the original members of the legendary gospel quartet The Fairfield Four. The harmonies siblings Ann, Deborah, Regina and Alfreda produce reflect the singing they grew up with in the home and at their father’s church and they have produced a recording Our Journey (McC Records) which is a result of their years of singing music of praise on a program of songs that might draw some comparisons to the Staples (except the material is more straight gospel and less some of the message songs of that legendary group).

While the sisters are the executive producers, they had assistance from Kevin McKendree, Gary Nicholson, Buddy Miller and others. McKendree is among the musicians on this album that also include Buddy Miller, the late saxophonist Dennis Taylor and guitarists Todd Sharp and Bob Britt. Guest vocals are added by Delbert McClinton, Mike Farris and Patty Griffin. Included are some covers as well as six originals penned by the sisters.

The opening interpretation of Bob Dylan’s Blowin’ In The Wind is simply stunning with its gospel-inflected arrangement and guitarist Ron McNelley’s stinging fills. This is a performance likely would have crossover appeal. There is a country-soul tinge to the Follow Me Up and original by co-producer of this track, Tommy Sims, that would have been at home on a Staples recording with its message of reassurance and comfort. Kevin McKendree and Regina McCrary collaborated on Bible Study, a hot jump blues melody with its gospel lyric about talking about Jesus and a groove that dancers may find irresistible as they sing mama get your daughter and daddy get your song and get right with the bible.

Julie Miller’s Broken Pieces is given a lovely performance that Alfreda takes the lead on as she sings about one can have her heart if one doesn’t mind the broken pieces. Ann McCrary’s Know My Name is a powerful gospel performance with sparse, percussive backing and followed by the fervent Memphis soul-gospel flavor of Give Him My All, a song collaboration between Regina and Bob Dylan that evokes the Staples at their best. He Cares has a softer R&B flavor as Alfreda leads the sisters in telling us he cares for us with what wounds her heart and soul, followed by the a cappella rendition of traditional Dig a Little Deeper in God’s eternal love where Deborah takes lead. On Other Side of the Blues (Since I Met You), Regina is joined by Delbert on a gospel-uptown blues as they sing about meeting their savior they are on the other side of the blues.

The album closes with more down home gospel a cappella singing on the title track about through song, the sisters journey keeps moving along. One of the sisters comments “That’s the way daddy would have done it” and indeed he would be overjoyed by the performances as they sing “through our song our journey keeps moving on.” And moving listeners and audiences is certainly what the performances do. Highly recommended.

I received a review copy from a publicist for this release. Here are McCrary Sisters on you tube performing Blowin' In the Wind.

No comments: