CD Review: Redeeming the Time (Kingdom Heirs)

Every generation of Southern Gospel quartets has a select few that leave a permanent mark on the genre by inspiring the next generation of singers to follow in their footsteps. Members of the Kingdom Heirs grew up listening to Gold City, the Kingsmen, and the Cathedrals; members of the next generation of Southern Gospel legends are cutting their teeth on the Kingdom Heirs. Look at “favorite singer” sections on countless regional groups’ websites, and you will probably see Kingdom Heirs members mentioned more than any other current group.

Some groups attempt to bring new fans into Southern Gospel by changing their approach to appeal to fans of other styles of music. The Kingdom Heirs bring new fans into Southern Gospel by capturing and perfecting the fundamental elements that have always defined and drawn fans to Southern Gospel.

These elements are found as strong as ever on Redeeming the Time. “Sermon on the Mount” is a strong album opener and would also make a strong concert opener. The two convention songs—”Just Beyond the Sunset” and “The Joys of Heaven”—are two of the strongest they’ve ever added to their repertoire. Toe-tappers like “Expect the Unexpected” and “Just Preach It” don’t disappoint. Among the anthems, the Jerry Martin-anchored “I Thank You” is a particularly strong arrangement and performance. And if “I’ll Know I’m Home” doesn’t get audiences shouting by the end of the final verse, nothing will.

Two songs deserve special mention: “How We Gonna Live in Babylon” and “Redeeming the Time.” (Rebecca Peck wrote the latter; she co-wrote the former with Dianne Wilkinson.) These represent a welcome trend in Southern Gospel songwriting. Much like the optimistically patriotic songs that frequently surfaced in our genre twenty years ago, they are cultural commentary. As our culture becomes increasingly hostile to Biblical Christianity, songs copying the patriotic optimism that worked so well in the 1980s and 1990s seem increasingly naive. In contrast, these two songs offer a more mature look at our current cultural milieu. Sure, we might want America back, but it’s looking increasingly unlikely that we’re going to get America back. If we don’t, we need to brace ourselves for the lions’ den. “How We Gonna Live in Babylon” explores this directed, while “Redeeming the Time” ponders how we can be “redeeming the time / in this evil day.”

Redeeming the Time is easily one of the strongest albums the Kingdom Heirs have ever released. It’s also the strongest album released so far this year, handily earning its five-star rating. No quartet fan wants to miss this album.

Traditional or Progressive: Traditional vocally; mixture of traditional and progressive instrumentally.

Group Members: Jerry Martin (tenor), Arthur Rice (lead), Steve French (baritone), Jeff Chapman (bass), Andy Stringfield (pianist), Kreis French (bass guitar), Dennis Murphy (drums).

Credits: Producers: Arthur Rice and Jeff Collins. Engineers: Van Atkins, Arthur Rice, Jerry Martin, Tim Smith. Mixed and Mastered by Arthur Rice and Zack Knudsen. Musicians: Jeff Collins (piano, keyboards), Andy Stringfield (piano, keyboards), Tony Creasman (drums, percussion), Jeremy Medkiff (bass guitar, electric guitar), David Johnson (acoustic guitar, mandolin, fiddle, resonator guitar, harmonica, steel guitar, banjo), Milton Smith (orchestrations), Steve Patrick (trumpet), Barry Green (trombone, bass trombone), Doug Moffet (tenor sax).

Song List (songwriters in parentheses): The Sermon on the Mount (Dianne Wilkinson, Rebecca Peck); Just Preach It (Dianne Wilkinson, Rebecca Peck); How We Gonna Live in Babylon? (Dianne Wilkinson, Rebecca Peck); Redeeming the Time (Rebecca Peck); Wasted Years (Wally Fowler); Just Beyond the Sunset (Dianne Wilkinson); I’ll Know I’m Home (Dianne Wilkinson, Jeff Crews), The Joys of Heaven (Dianne Wilkinson); I Thank You (Dianne Wilkinson); Expect the Unexpected (Rebecca Peck, Logan Peck); The Borrowed Tomb (Dianne Wilkinson, Rebecca Peck).

Album Rating: 5 stars.

Five-star songs: Sermon on the Mount; How We Gonna Live in Babylon; Redeeming the Time; Just Beyond the Sunset; I’ll Know I’m Home; The Joys of Heaven.