Saturday, August 11, 2012

Rhonda Vincent - Sunday Mornin' Singin' LIVE!

Well, I got it.  I've been taking advantage of that free music offer that Valero is doing when you buy a 44 oz. fountain drink.  Also I've torn a few credits from cups that people tossed in the street instead of putting in the trash.

As I had mentioned before, this is a collection of gospel songs, or gospel-related songs performed in her usual bluegrass (or bluegrass-related) style. They were all recorded live, and these are the most well-behaved audiences I've ever heard on a live album.  Most of these songs don't even sound like they came from a live performance until you hear the applause at the end of each piece.

Most of these songs are original, but there are a few old traditional hymns in the mix.  One song, "His Promised Land," is performed a capella (nothing but voices), but for some dumb reason they stick a half-step up key change in the middle of it.  This is a typical trick in pop music to keep a boring song from sounding quite too boring, and in the vast majority of cases it's musically illogical and irrelevant.  Suddenly changing key without reason between stanzas of a hymn is just weird and jarring.  I felt like someone sneaked up and poked me in the stomach without any provocation.

I'm listening to it as I write this, and just came across another song with a similar unnecessary key change.  I hate to harp on this, but man it's just not right.  But I'm sure her audiences have been conditioned through listening to so much pop music* that they expect it and to them it sounds good.

Now where was I?  Oh yeah, there are a few old traditionals here:  Just As I Am, God Put a Rainbow in the Clouds, Joshua and The Old Rugged Cross.  Possibly a couple of others, I'm not sure, but those are the ones I'm familiar with.  In the case of "Just As I Am," I could go so far as to say terribly familiar. But this version I like.  It's a little faster than I'm used to hearing it, and it's got a nice little swing to it that makes it sound like a waltz.  She sings only three stanzas, which is probably a very good thing or she would've had to stick in a couple of those modulations just to keep people from drifting.  The most "complete" version I know of has six stanzas.  Once, during a particularly long and grueling service, we sang the whole thing through twice.  Twelve stanzas of "Just As I Am" at once.  I must admit that we might have benefited from a couple of key changes that time.

Unfortunately, since I downloaded this, I didn't get any documentation with it.  I'm going to have to look up most of these songs and see if they are traditional hymns or not.

Okay, two a capella songs, the one previously mentioned and another called "Fishers of Men."  She has a really good group of singers with her.

All in all, a great album in spite of my personal little gripes that don't matter anyway.  I'm not going to say that I recommend it because I doubt that any of my readers listen to much gospel or bluegrass, but if you do, you should get it.  And please note that by "gospel" I do not mean "contemporary Christian."  As a general rule, I don't listen to lame pop music, no matter what the lyrics are about.

I might have to eventually buy this on CD anyway just to get the documentation on it.  If anyone reads this who has the CD, I would be very thankful if you'd go to the trouble of scanning and emailing me the booklet.

*When I say "pop music," I don't just mean what most people refer to as "pop."  I mean pop, rock, modern country...pretty much anything that's not classical, jazz or old hard-core country/folk, which has much more in common musically with classical than it does with modern "country."

1 comment:

  1. I felt like someone sneaked up and poked me in the stomach without any provocation.

    Heh heh. That's a good way to describe unnecessary modulations, and you're right to call them "key changes". They're not true modulations.

    I don't find the sudden key changes too offensive (more like a mild poke in the stomach, as a wise man most recently said!), but they are certainly unnecessary because nobody expects pop songs to be anything more than repetitive. And making any song truly musically interesting would involve an actual modulation to a new phrase or a new progression instead of just shifting the same progression up a step or two.

    But, again, nobody expects that much from pop songs, so the fake modulations work just enough to please the producers. Shift everything up just before fading out, and Bob's your uncle.