Jamie Dailey (left) and Darrin Vincent: stirring, rousing southern gospel music, sung a cappella, and always from the right place. (Photo by Audrey Harrod)
A Direct Hit
By David McGee
SINGING FROM THE HEART
Dailey & Vincent
If anyone knows what it is to be blessed, it’s Jamie Dailey and Darrin Vincent. Men of deep faith both, they surely know that it’s one thing to plan your collaboration out with all due deliberation and care, and to systematically follow that plan, but then to practically sweep the IBMA awards only a couple of years later surely emphasized to them that they are, without qualification, blessed. You hear the conviction of their faith in every show, when they settle in for a gospel set, a cappella, that brings audiences to their feet and to tears, so powerful is the message in their voices. And now you hear it on Singing From the Heart, 11 tracks of stirring, rousing southern gospel music, sung a cappella, and always from the right place, as the title indicates.
The backstory of this album, though, is even more telling about the kind of men Dailey and Vincent are. So it was that when Dailey’s friend Malcolm L. Hill, president of the Tennessee Bible College, which he founded in 1975 with a policy of turning away no worthy applicant for lack of funds, approached the singer (then a member of Doyle Lawson’s band) about doing an album of quartet a cappella gospel, Dailey didn’t flinch. He set about working on the building, and one of the first people he enlisted was one he knew to be a man of faith himself, Darrin Vincent, then of Ricky Skaggs’ Kentucky Thunder. Rounding out the lineup, they assembled a formidable roster: Lonesome River Band tenor Andy Ball; Legacy Five bass man Glenn Dustin; Crossroad’s baritone Anthony Facello; baritone Tony King, formerly with J.D. Crowe, now with Brooks & Dunn; Blue Highway tenor Shawn Lane; King’s Herald bass man Jeff Pearles; with Molly Skaggs adding her clear, ringing tenor to “Amazing Grace”; and Doyle Lawson himself dealing a formidable baritone on a moving rendition of the 19th Century hymn, “Near the Cross.” It was seven years in the making, this album, the product of daunting session logistics that had to take into account all the participants’ touring schedules, plus lack of budget (a fairly daunting hindrance, that) and even a label. But here it is, and Dailey, Vincent, and all those who joined them, have much to be proud of.
Dailey & Vincent, ‘Don’t You Want To Go To Heaven When You Die,’ the final song on the a cappella gospel album, Singing From the Heart
There are no substandard voices on Singing From The Heart, so be prepared for the wealth of fine singing herein. The arrangements are smart and lively, the elegant part singing breathtaking in its precision and passion, the harmonies tight and transcendent. Dailey takes most of the lead roles, but Vincent has a couple of memorable leads to his credit, most effectively in setting the sublimely straightforward tone of “Near the Cross,” although it is debatable whether that performance tops his exuberant charge as the lead on the album ending gallop through David Marshall’s “Don’t You Want To Go To Heaven,” or the stirring solemnity of his testimony on the evergreen “Farther Along.” It would be equally difficult to single out any of Dailey’s leads as being more than another, but his plaintive tenor rising out of the ensemble on “The Old Rugged Cross” is as arresting a sound as the album contains. There’s also a winning lightness of spirit to the joy he proclaims with keening certainty on “Jesus Is Coming Soon,” which reaches its exultant climax in a rush of cascading voices, beautifully constructed and flawlessly executed. But any discussion of this effort would be remiss in failing to mention the invincible bass foundation provided by Glenn Dustin, who seems to have gone the extra mile to make his parts even more robust than usual. He has a star turn on a driving, syncopated “Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho,” taking an entire verse on his own while Dailey and Vincent hum in harmony behind him, but even when receding into the background he owns this trio recording of an old, treasured favorite. Although he’s not the lead voice on “Hide Me, Rock of Ages,” his responsive fills between the pealing verses sung in unison by Dailey, Vincent and Tony King add heft to an emotional soundscape before the four voices meld in sweet harmony at song’s close.
D&V already have one of this year’s finest albums (Mothers From Different Brothers) to their credit. Singing From the Heart cedes no quarter to the earlier long player—it has no band, it has no barnburning moments, it has no death ballads, it has no love songs (save for love of the Lord), but it’s every bit as memorable, even more powerful in its spartan setting, resonant feelings and persuasive commitment to its message. Hats off to all for work well done, and especially to Jamie Dailey and Darrin Vincent for designating proceeds from the sale of the album to go to the Tennessee Bible College to support its mission. — David McGee