(EDIT: Rating: 5 stars of 5)
In 2003, the Perrys raised the bar for their projects with This is the Day. In liner notes for that album’s back cover, Singing News editor Danny Jones said,
Just like the grand tradition in which they sing, the Perrys will never go away. They’ll just get better…and better…and even better. If good is good enough for you, skip this record. It’s only for those who want the best.
That project set the standard by which their albums since (Life of Love, Remembering the Happy Goodmans, and Come Thirsty) have been measured. The last three of those projects featured Loren Harris singing lead and Joseph Habedank singing baritone. But with Harris’s departure last year, Habedank’s move to lead, and Nick Trammell’s addition as baritone, some observers wondered if the new lineup would measure up.
Look No Further features twelve songs by twelve songwriters: Kyla Rowland, Joel Lindsey, Mosie Lister, Dottie Rambo, Rodney Griffin, Chris Binion, Wayne Haun, Marcia Henry, Allie LaPointe, Nick Trammell, Joseph Habedank, and Matthew Holt. Kyla Rowland wrote two songs for the project and Joseph Habedank co-wrote three (two with Matthew Holt), but other than that, each of the other songwriters only wrote or co-wrote one song. This avoids the over-reliance on one writer that weakens many otherwise strong projects.
The project, produced by Wayne Haun, starts off with an uptempo quartet song Haun penned, “I Know it Was the Blood.” It’s one of several particularly radio-friendly songs on the project.
Group alto Libbi Perry Stuffle is featured on “The Potter Knows the Clay,” a mid-tempo ballad.
Although Rodney Griffin is known for primarily writing ballads, once in a while (i.e., “I Know I’m Going There” and “Don’t Let the Sandals Fool Ya”) he writes a fast-paced quartet song. “Every Question Will Be Answered,” his contribution to the project, is such a song.
The title track, penned by Rowland, is one of the highlights of the project. The verses bear a slight melodic resemblance to another Rowland song, “Something’s Happening.” Every member has a solo on one of the song’s four verses, with bass Tracy Stuffle and lead singer Joseph Habedank singing complete verses. This song should do well on radio, and promises to also be a concert staple for the group.
Group baritone Nick Trammell is featured on a song he wrote, “All is Well.” Though his voice is unmistakably a Trammell voice, it doesn’t have the edge that nearly thirty years on the road has given his father Mark’s voice. Mark Trammell now has the voice quality of a lead singer; Nick Trammell’s voice is currently more like his father’s voice in the early 1980s, distinctly a baritone voice. (Since he is the group’s baritone, that’s actually a good thing.)
Tracy Stuffle is featured on the Habedank/Holt song “Product of Love.”
I have felt since Remembering the Happy Goodmans came out that “The Holy Hills of Heaven” was the one song not on the project that I most wish had been. Its addition to this project adds a nice nod to Southern Gospel’s heritage to this collection of otherwise mostly new songs.
The Perrys do include one other older song on the project, “Come and Get Me” by Mosie Lister. It was one of Lister’s earliest songs, and has not (to my knowledge) been recorded by a professional group for years. It is given a wide-open convention-song treatment reminiscent of a song like “When Morning Sweeps the Eastern Sky.”
Joseph Habedank and Libbi Perry Stuffle are featured on a powerful Kyla Rowland ballad called “Holy Shore.”
The album closes with a mid-tempo Joel Lindsey song called “Second Opinion.”
For the last day and a half, I have been trying to decide whether to say what I really think about the CD. After the response one earlier review got, I tend to avoid superlatives in album reviews.
But every now and then, a project comes along that deserves superlatives. And I would be less than honest if I didn’t tell you what I really think.
This project deserves to go down alongside Gold City’s Are You Ready, Greater Vision’s Live at First Baptist Atlanta, Legacy Five’s Live in Music City, and the Perrys’ own This is the Day as one of the albums of the decade.
Some wondered if the album would measure up to recent Perrys albums. But with Look no Further, the Perrys raise the bar again.