It has been three years and four months since Gold City released their last mainline CD, Moment of Truth. In the last three years, they have had five tenors (Steve Ladd, Chris Cooper, Josh Cobb, Brent Mitchell, Dan Keeton), three lead singers (Bruce Taliaferro, Craig West, Jerry Pelfrey), two or three bass singers (Aaron McCune, Chris West, and Tim Riley), and three pianists (Josh Simpson, Roy Webb, and Bryan Elliott). This leaves baritone Daniel Riley as the only current member who was also on Moment of Truth. To sum up the last three years in a word: Tumultuous.
Work on this CD started last summer. It was originally scheduled to release at or shortly after the 2010 National Quartet Convention. But each of the six or seven personnel changes since then have delayed the release farther. This lineup has stayed together for long enough that, despite a last-minute change at the lead singer position, the album is finally out. Though the official release date is November 15th, it was released digitally on iTunes yesterday morning.
Somebody’s Coming is just what the doctor ordered. After over three years of staging largely the same songs, the group needed strong new songs every bit as much as they needed a stable lineup. This CD offers quite a few.
Fans of their last two mainline CDs (Gold City’s most progressive two to date) will like “Somebody’s Coming” and “Lord of Life.” But even if “When Jesus Saves” wasn’t your cup of tea, both of these are good enough songs that you just might find yourself tapping your toes anyhow.
There is also plenty for fans of classic Gold City lineups to like. Heading that list is new lead singer Jerry Pelfrey, who has earned comparisons to a young Ivan Parker. Tim Riley, meanwhile, is among the greatest Southern Gospel legends on the road today; he’s turned loose on “I Get Down.”
Danny Riley, meanwhile, turns in exceptionally strong performances on two of the project’s strongest songs, “Peter, James, and John” and “Footprints on the Water.” The former is the first radio single, and the latter needs to go to radio.
Tenor Dan Keeton’s sole feature is “Leave That Burden.” Don’t approach that song thinking Brian Free, Jay Parrack, Steve Ladd, or Josh Cobb. The performance brings a Michael Booth voice timbre to mind; even though the arrangement doesn’t scream “Gold City,” it’s a pleasantly mellow song.
Gold City chose the right song order. The four opening tracks are among the most likely to appeal to fans of classic lineups, while the closer is a fifth. Songs 5-8, meanwhile, are the most adventurous—but by this point, they have already won over earlier fans.
If Somebody’s Coming had been released by the lineup that started the project—Josh Cobb, Bruce Taliaferro, Danny Riley, Tim Riley, and Roy Webb—it would probably have been a five-star project. (Of course, it would have had one more incredibly strong song, Josh Cobb’s reinvention of his signature song, “I Stand Redeemed,” helping to boost the rating.) With one or two exceptions, the songs on this project were selected for that lineup, not the current lineup. That said, this lineup turns in a solid 4.5 star performance here. They prove here that they have the potential to turn in a five-star performance on material selected for their voices.
Somebody’s Coming isn’t the best CD Gold City has ever released. But it’s in the top ten.
Traditional or Progressive
Middle-of-the-road with some tracks leaning country or progressive
Radio Single Picks
“Peter, James and John,” “Footprints on the Water”
Album Rating: 4.5 stars
Group members: Dan Keeton, Jerry Pelfrey, Danny Riley, Tim Riley, Bryan Elliott. • Review copy not provided. • Song list: Peter, James, and John; I Get Down; Footprints on the Water; It Won’t Be Long; Showers of Blessings; Lord of Life; Somebody’s Coming; Leave that Burden; I Have an Anchor; Never Too Broken to Belong.