CD Review: Ray Stevens Gospel Collection Volume One


Ray Stevens CD Review

Making music since the late 50’s, the 12 time Grammy nominee, 2 time recipient, Ray Stevens released a Gospel album August 19, 2014. The new recordings titled GOSPEL COLLECTION VOLUME ONE mark Stevens’ official first project as part of the Gaither Gospel Series.

The collection showcases Stevens’ mega talents. Not only is he the arranger and the producer, but he also sings the leads and all of the harmony vocals! Years of musical experience and Ray Stevens’ personality infiltrates each and song.

Ray Stevens is perhaps best known for carving out a niche in comedy music. There are plenty of selections on this album that leaves the listener with a smile. “The Preacher and The Bear,” as well as “Dry Bones” are two that spark a few chuckles and the musical surprises woven throughout the record remind the listener there is one and only Ray Stevens.

Stevens is also known to have a “serious side” by using his music to bring awareness to political and social issues. On this album, Stevens includes songs to prick the spiritual conscience. Both “Have a little Talk With Myself/Just A Little Talk With Jesus,” and “If Jesus Is A Stranger, (Check Your Circle Of Friends)” are great self-examination songs.

The fact that Stevens is an accomplished musician and an experienced prouder definitely shows in the arrangements and production. The arrangement of “Turn Your Radio On” nearly pulls the listener out of the seat to dance a jig. Some songs are heavily and beautifully orchestrated complete with brass section!

The GOSPEL COLLECTION VOLUME ONE also includes timeless hymns such as “Amazing Grace,” “Farther Along,” and “The Old Rugged Cross/Rock of Ages.” Although this is the first gospel album from Ray Stevens in a long time, the music stays within the boundaries of who Ray Stevens truly is. And those are broad boundaries to say the least! The album reflects his brilliance as the entertainer, producer, arranger, musician, comedian, vocalist, communicator that the world has loved for decades.