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Four His Glory

Will You Love Jesus More? (2001)

3.0

May 30, 2002

Tuning / Blend 3.3
Energy / Intensity 3.3
Innovation / Creativity 3.3
Soloists 3.0
Sound / Production 2.7
Repeat Listenability 2.0
Tracks
1 Since Jesus Came Into My Heart 4.0
2 Beneath the Cross 3.0
3 Watch and Pray 2.7
4 Saved By Grace 3.0
5 Ivory Palaces 3.0
6 The Lord God Be Praised Above the Heavens 3.0
7 Story ofJesus Medley 2.7
8 Victory in Jesus/Wonderful Grace of Jesus 3.3
9 Will You Love Jesus More? 2.3
10 Jesus, Hold My Hand 3.3
11 There Is Power in the Blood 3.3
12 Jesus Is My Lord, My Master and Savior 3.3

Recorded 2001
Total time: 31:20, 12 songs


Tuning / Blend 4
Energy / Intensity 3
Innovation / Creativity 3
Soloists 3
Sound / Production 3
Repeat Listenability 2
Tracks
1 Since Jesus Came Into My Heart 4
2 Beneath the Cross 3
3 Watch and Pray 3
4 Saved By Grace 2
5 Ivory Palaces 3
6 The Lord God Be Praised Above the Heavens 4
7 Story ofJesus Medley 3
8 Victory in Jesus/Wonderful Grace of Jesus 3
9 Will You Love Jesus More? 3
10 Jesus, Hold My Hand 4
11 There Is Power in the Blood 3
12 Jesus Is My Lord, My Master and Savior 4

Christian Barbershop.

If there was ever a confluence of genres that challenged this reviewer to the utmost of his abilities, Four His Glory has discovered it, perfected it, and presented it here for my enjoyment.

I mean, there is a lot of Jesus here. Now, "Jesus" is not the most singable name in the lyrical canon. It doesn't quite roll off the tongue like, say, "Maria" (think West Side Story or The Sound of Music). It's a tad clumsier, two plodding syllables, almost impossible to match phonetically ("jee-zus") topped with a difficult sibilant "s" at the end. And boy, is there a lot of it on this album. A sampling: Since Jesus Came Into My Heart, Beneath the Cross of Jesus, Victory in Jesus/Wonderful Grace of Jesus, Jesus, Hold My Hand, and of course The Story of Jesus Medley, to name a few.

Now, I'm not saying these guys can't sing. In fact, they're one of the more solid barbershop quartets I've heard. Baritone/founder Roger Blackburn shows a steady hand as an arranger, and rarely does the group stray from the tight tuning that's evident on every track.

In fact, the only real stinker is, ironically, the title track, Will You Love Jesus More?, which could have used a few more takes in the studio to get it to the level of most of the rest of the album.

But the word of the day for the last few reviews has been "boutique" — highly specialized, obscure albums interesting to only a select, privileged few. Will You Love Jesus More? certainly qualifies. If you're into loving Jesus, a lot, and hearing about it in ringing barbershop splendor, make the investment. Otherwise, take a pass.


Tuning / Blend 3
Energy / Intensity 4
Innovation / Creativity 3
Soloists 3
Sound / Production 2
Repeat Listenability 2
Tracks
1 Since Jesus Came Into My Heart 4
2 Beneath the Cross 3
3 Watch and Pray 3
4 Saved By Grace 3
5 Ivory Palaces 3
6 The Lord God Be Praised Above the Heavens 2
7 Story ofJesus Medley 3
8 Victory in Jesus/Wonderful Grace of Jesus 3
9 Will You Love Jesus More? 2
10 Jesus, Hold My Hand 3
11 There Is Power in the Blood 3
12 Jesus Is My Lord, My Master and Savior 3

While I have plenty of negative things to say about Will You Love Jesus More?, I blame most of them on the recording choices rather than on the group per se. I bet that Four His Glory, a Christian quartet, sounds impressive in the echoey sanctuaries where they perform; a live recording might have served them well. This studio release, though, features countless small tuning errors that detract from every song. They're right more than they're wrong, but you don't need to be wrong very much to wreck a hymn.

The disc begins with a cheerful version of Since Jesus Came Into My Heart featuring solid technique and a bouncy barbershop vibe. Every other song is marred by significant errors, ranging from inadequate bass diction on Ivory Palaces to a moment of virtual chaos at the end of The Lord God Be Praised. On several tracks I kept thinking, "Come on, guys...you nailed the same chord earlier in the song! Why didn't you give it one more take?". For whatever reason, whether it was time, financial constraints, or insufficient perfectionism, they didn't.

Despite its mix of traditional and contemporary hymns and obvious heartfelt energy, I can't recommend this disc except as a souvenir of a live show. Next time, guys, invest in a picky producer and maybe some post-recording cleanup. I'll be listening.

P.S. Check out their website for the most succinct group history I have ever had the pleasure to read...and I've read a few!


Tuning / Blend 3
Energy / Intensity 3
Innovation / Creativity 4
Soloists 3
Sound / Production 3
Repeat Listenability 2
Tracks
1 Since Jesus Came Into My Heart 4
2 Beneath the Cross 3
3 Watch and Pray 2
4 Saved By Grace 4
5 Ivory Palaces 3
6 The Lord God Be Praised Above the Heavens 3
7 Story ofJesus Medley 2
8 Victory in Jesus/Wonderful Grace of Jesus 4
9 Will You Love Jesus More? 2
10 Jesus, Hold My Hand 3
11 There Is Power in the Blood 4
12 Jesus Is My Lord, My Master and Savior 3

Four His Glory presents a product that would probably be safely classified as niche, a collection of barbershop arrangements of 12 Christian hymns. For the faithful and fairly non-discriminating, the group provides a spirited and different approach to the typical church arrangements one would hear of these hymns; I was intrigued to hear such a different treatment of this type of music. However, a more careful listen reveals occasional tuning and blend issues which prevent Will You Love Jesus More? from becoming an album for the uninitiated masses.

According to the liner notes, the quartet has substantial musical experience among them and performs often in Philadelphia-area churches, which makes periodic sloppy entrances, unisons that aren't, and mistuned chords all the more frustrating. The voices sound like those of trained veterans, so why didn't they catch/fix the missteps? One track will resonate with tight, pleasing harmonies, only for the next one to remain off-pitch for nearly the entire duration. This was most often due to issues with the mid-range voices, which tended to go flat on the more difficult chords. The tones of the four singers are fairly different, which creates a disjointed blend that works well for them on some tracks (typically the upbeat ones) and hurts them on others. This probably could have been helped by production more tailored to individual tracks.

On the positive side, I found many of the arrangements interesting and creative. The tracks where the tuning and the lead click can be really engaging (even for an admitted non-fan of barbershop). Roy Eckert, the lead, has a particularly unique tone that provides some nice moments. And the sound of the group is energetic and lively — I have no doubt Four His Glory puts on an endearing and entertaining show for its core audience of Philadelphia-area churches. While the album may not ultimately be something to write home about unless you're part of that demographic, it's clear the group is not looking to cater to those outside barbershop and religious circles. And Will You Love Jesus More? is undoubtedly a pleasant, if inconsistent, offering for such listeners.

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