All The Way
While there is a quartet influence woven throughout the album, The Rance Allen Group (brothers Rance Allen, Steve Allen and Tom Allen) continues to relish the contemporary styles, as can be heard on nearly every selection.
Joining with Deitrick Haddon on the album's first song "Living Witness", the group shows that they have found a worthy collaborator in the rising star from Detroit. Set to a driving beat, strings and settled guitar, the incomparable richness of voice that is definitively Rance Allen astounds immediately. Cramming as many growls, falsetto whirs and tonal colors in three bars as some show in an entire album, you it's a drop-dead stunning display that 30 years after his entry into the genre, we're still looking at a master.
Elsewhere on the project, Allen joins with his former music director, Chris Byrd, to collaborate on songwriting and production. Songs such as "Honey Out of the Rock" and "Blessing Me Again" are gems, with Byrd's organ finesse shining through.
Steve Allen and Tom Allen respectively make rare lead vocal appearances along with their brother on the lightly rendered "The Sweetest Name". Amidst finger snaps, guitar and keyboards, this simple praise moves with grace and power. "Stay With Me" is sung set to a smooth 70's soul feel with Rance providing the rich vocal meanderings alongside Tom and Steve's occasional bursts of backing vocals to echo the lead.
"Do Your Will" is maybe the most rocking piece on the project, Lyrically, the song is a strong express from Rance of the entirety of his life's ambition. Forsaking the bait of glamor and utmost fame that almost certainly seemed to await him if he took to the path of secular music, this longtime pastor and veteran of music ministry uses the song to explain the completeness and fullness joy that comes with simply doing the will of God, regardless of pressure from others.
In fact, this theme of sticking tight with God is woven throughout this standout album, with the group expressing it on several other songs ("Taking It Easy", "Stay With Me" and the title track).
Other songs of note are "Say Yes" from the pen of Tracy Williamson, which moves in ballad style as the group tells of the beauty of saying yes to God's will. The melody is strong and Rance works the vocal phrasing with obvious joy. Choir sounds enter only once on All The Way, courtesy of the trim Temple of Praise Pastor's Choir under the direction of Pastor Donald Golder. The song is "Hold On", and features Rance in fabulous form, ad libbing through the introductory minutes over strings, before the song morphs into familiar melody.
"Emma Pearl" is a tribute to track to the Allen brother's mother, someone who they credit as their primary musical influence and a respected musician in her own right (see interview). Family also comes in on the closing track, "Jesus Can Satisfy", as Myrna Allen (Steven Allen's daughter) takes lead in straightforward style, with the The Rance Allen Group lending tender vocal support.
Sometimes one buys an album simply to complete a collection, or because of the renown of the group invovled. With All The Way, you would do good to pick it up for both those reasons. But even if The Rance Allen Group were an unknown, this would be a must-have album due to the quality of the music AND the ministry all by itself.
— reviewed by Stan North —
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