Sounds of Jericho is a new male quartet founded by bass singer Stacy Bragg and tenor Stephen Sigmon. Both were founding members of the Mike LeFevre Quartet; Sigmon stayed from 2005-2007, while Bragg stayed from 2005-2009. They are joined by lead singer Matt Tyler, baritone singer Ken Thomas, and, evidently since the recording’s photo shoot was completed, by arranger/pianist/guitarist Matt Dowdy.
The Story of His Grace is a surprisingly solid debut recording. As one might expect, with multiple members’ histories in professional groups, the tracks and vocal performances alike are professional quality. The arrangements are middle-of-the-road, leaning slightly progressive—reminiscent of current Kingsmen or Kingdom Heirs tracks.
There are a number of strong tracks. “Ten Thousand Angels” is the anchor anthem, sure to be a concert show-stopper. It’s not the familiar song by the same name (Happy Goodmans, Blackwood Brothers, et cetera); it’s a song that suggests comparisons to Brian Free & Assurance.
Other strong tracks include “Deeper Journey,” the mid-tempo opening track; ”Jesus Never Changes,” a lyric-driven slower song, and “Resting Place,” a hymnlike song in a stunningly beautiful acapella setting. (The latter is not the same song as the Wilburns’ hit song by the same name).
There are twelve tracks; most are new, but four are classics (“Wayfaring Stranger,” “If the Lord Wasn’t Walking By My Side,” “I’d Rather Have Jesus,” and “Operator”). The new songs are strong enough that they don’t need the classics to raise the average song quality; in fact, the album would probably have been stronger overall as a ten-song collection, dropping two of the classics and putting the focus more squarely on the new material.
if The Story of His Grace is any indicator, expect to be hearing from Sounds of Jericho for years to come.
Group Members: Matt Tyler, Ken Thomas, Stacy Bragg, Stephen Sigmon.
Credits: Producer: Mark Dowdy. All arrangements and tracks: Mark Dowdy, recorded at Rivercrest Music, Gainesville, Georgia.
Song List: Deeper Journey (written by Rob Johnson, Gene Pistilli, Michael Puryear), If The Lord Wasn’t Walkin’ By My Side (Henry Slaughter), Living Testimony (Michael Puryear, Gina Vera), Resting Place (Rob Johnson, Gene Pistilli, Michael Puryear), Wayfaring Stranger (Charlie Tillman), Spread it Around (Joseph Habedank, Dwighy Liles, Michael Puryear), Jesus Never Changes (Paula Stefanovich, Michael Puryear), Standing in the Storm (Michael Puryear, Dwight Liles, Laureen Smith, Gwen Moore), I’d Rather Have Jesus (George Beverly Shea, Rhea F. Miller), Leave the Light On (Kenna West, Dwight Liles, Michael Puryear), Ten Thousand Angels (Mark Dowdy, Vince Wilcox), Operator (William Spivery).
Album Rating: 4 stars.
Five-star songs: Ten Thousand Angels.