CD Review: Just Stand (Legacy Five)

Over their first ten years on the road, Legacy Five has produced several landmark recordings. Their debut, Strong in the Strength, set a high standard that only one or two other CDs in the following decade—namely, London and Live in Music City—would approach.

Just Stand redefines just how magnificent a Legacy Five project can be. It raises the bar in such a literal way that if any of the three aforementioned projects were follow-ups to this release, they would be 4.5 star recordings. It’s that good.

It’s that good for two simple reasons—song selection and the master’s touch of Lari Goss.

Let’s start with the latter. Lari Goss had some hand in Heroes of the Faith; his touch can be seen in a couple tracks on that project, particularly the poignant title track. But he never produced an entire Legacy Five project, until this one. What took so long?

From Roger Bennett’s homegoing until this project, Legacy Five was a group of partially but not completely filled potential. Goss’s majestic vocal arrangements and lush orchestrations realize this potential.

The song selection is, stylistically, the perfect fit for this lineup’s voices. From jazzy numbers (“New Born Feeling”) to convention songs (“My Soul is Firmly Anchored”) to country-influenced songs (“Above All Circumstances”) to, of course, a heaping plateful of big ballads, this album shows off a wider range of what Legacy Five can pull off well than any previous project.

The project is anchored by two ballads, “When They Found Nothing” and “Faithful to the Cross.”

“When They Found Nothing,” the group’s first radio single, comes from the pens of four writers, Marty Funderburk, Beverly Lowry, James Isaac Elliot, and Melissa R. Bishop. All too often, groups with three or more co-writers lose that special something—a unity in the lyric and consistency in the tune—while in committee. But not so with this song; Marty Funderburk (one of Southern Gospel’s most prolific non-performing songwriters), Bev Lowry (Mark’s mother), James Isaac Elliott, and Melissa Bishop struck gold.

“Faithful to the Cross” is one of the greatest songs ever written. Notice that last sentence was without any qualifier. It is that one-in-a-million anthem that would be equally at home at a wedding or a funeral. And that’s not even to mention services where a pastor is installed or retires, or regular church services. Kenna Turner West and Lee Black have written a song that deserves to go down as one of the greatest all-time Southern Gospel classics.

In closing, I ought to try to find another way to say that this is simply one of the best CDs released this decade—but I’m out of superlatives and synonyms. Just buy the thing!

Rating: 5 stars. ♦ Average song rating: 4.5 stars. ♦ Group members: Frank Seamans, Scott Fowler, Scott Howard, Glenn Dustin, Tim Parton. ♦ Produced by: Lari Goss. ♦ Review copy purchased (not provided). ♦ Song list: New Born Feeling; Great Is Thy Faithfulness; One Thing God Can’t Do; Just Stand; Faithful to the Cross; Above All Circumstances; When They Found Nothing; My Soul is Firmly Anchored; Statement of Faith (including Legacy Five, the Booth Brothers, the Hoppers, and Greater Vision); Thankful for the Change; ‘Til We Meet Again.