Those of you who have read my posts here and on Southern Gospel message boards for a while know that I am a fan of the all-live piano solo in a concert setting. Piano solos with soundtracks are nice, but there is very little that can top a master pianist doing all the fills and runs with just ten fingers.
That said, I have typically found most piano-only instrumental CDs to be rather listless, boring productions. Piano solos on a CD are often slower arrangements than the three-chords-and-a-cloud-of-dust that the same pianist will play live. If that sort of thing could be captured on CD, it would make a great instrumental CD, but it isn’t frequently.
And that is all a roundabout way of introducing and explaining the fact that I think Roy Webb’s solo CD is quite enjoyable despite the heavy instrumentation. If I didn’t give that preliminary explanation, you might think I was stepping out of character to find something nice to say about it. But I don’t have to here.
This project appears to have been a full-scale undertaking, with superproducers Wayne Haun and Lari Goss contributing to the horn and string arrangements, and numerous top studio musicians–among them Gordon Mote, John Hammond, Greg Ritchie, Mark Vain, Lari Goss, and the members of the Nashville String Machine–playing instruments for the project.
Webb’s jazz training at the University of Cincinnati Conservatory of Music shows in several of the arrangements on this project, most notably “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” and “Tell Me the Story of Jesus.”
“Just a Little Talk with Jesus,” “Swing Low Medley,” and “Wayfaring Stranger” all get a jazz-influenced Black Gospel spiritual treatment.
Numerous new Signature Sound fans have never heard of Southern Gospel before, and with a nod to this fact, Webb includes “Above All” and “People Need the Lord,” two contemporary praise songs that they would recognize.
This is a very well-balanced project, with four hymns, one Southern Gospel quartet song (“Just a Little Talk”), two spirituals (“Swing Low Medley” and “Wayfaring Stranger”), two praise songs, and one big ballad. It is Southern Gospel enough that a fan of SG instrumental CDs should enjoy it, yet unique enough that it should appeal to a wide variety of fans.