Greater Vision’s 2015 release, As We Speak, is a combination of refreshing music and lyrics that are challenging, meaningful and encouraging. Each song enhances the sound that makes Greater Vision so beloved among their fans; whether it’s a rich orchestra behind a ballad like “This Is Mercy” or a rousing tune like “Preacher, Tell Me Like It Is” from GV’s previous release (For All He’s Done), As We Speak has all the elements required to find a home in the heart of each listener.
Writers and Theme:
The culmination of such excellent material can be attributed to Greater Vision’s very own. With two prolific songwriters in the group, the ability to create songs that fit GV’s style knows no bounds. Baritone singer Rodney Griffin authors six songs on the album and tenor singer Chris Allman appears with two.
The theme of a project can often be spotted by the re-occurring messages in each song. In As We Speak, that re-appearing theme is grace. It was grace that cancelled out the fires of the Old Testament sacrifices (as seen in Put Out the Fire) and grace that sustains the Believers who endure persecution by following In The Sandals of Daniel. Furthermore, we see grace in the blood that defends our righteousness before the throne, which cares for our every need like He Does and saves us all though our individual needs vary (as seen in, Saved By the Same Grace).
Music and Tribute:
No other group in the industry pulls off a sound like Greater Vision. Their deep, rich timbre has a depth all their own and the music that accompanies them has unique taste that augments their voices – together, it’s like magic. Their sound is so established that they can take any style of music and make it their own, copying no one. I noticed this most in tracks three (Toes In The Water) and five (In The Sandals Of Daniel). The remaining tracks carry that “classic GV” feel – which features an orchestra and amazing arrangements from Lari Goss.
As We Speak is also a bittersweet tribute to the life of Lari Goss. The project was the last full length recording that Lari arranged for a group before his passing earlier this year. In the “CD tray” there is a photo of Lari and the inscription, “In memory of Lari Goss – Producer, Arranger, Hero, Friend.” Everyone who lifts the CD from its case will be reminded of Lari’s influence in the music of Greater Vision through the years.
Chris Allman – tenor
Gerald Wolfe – lead
Rodney Griffin – baritone
1 Put Out The Fire
Message: The first verse of this song takes us to the banks of the Jordan river where John the Baptist preached the Messiah’s coming. In the midst of those who prided themselves on law keeping, John pointed to the temple and declared that the sacrifices would never be able to wash away sin…but then he cried, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” The chorus continues the thought pattern by explaining, “Put out the fire!” Because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, the “fire” and the substitute lambs are no longer needed. Jesus has ushered in the glory of God by becoming the only sacrifice worthy to make us holy before the Father. The perfect lamb is found – the fires on the altars? Put ‘em out! The second verse explains how the Old Testament sacrifices were the visual reminder that sin had a high cost. But temple duties were about to change – for the Promise came and the new altar would forever be…the cross.
Other Comments: After GV’s 2013 release, For All He’s Done, I never thought Rodney would be able to write a song as perfect as the second track, Looking For The Grace. It was one of my favorites! I thought it was the most excellent lyric ever written. That opinion has now been shifted to this song! This upbeat, finely orchestrated piece is brilliant! As you listen, be sure to take note of some great picking on the acoustic guitar…then again, the whole orchestra gives the song a great feel!
2 We Can’t Tell It All
Feature: Rodney Griffin
Message: Music has always been a way for man to describe the wonders of God’s power, attributes and love. The yearning to express all He is in song can be traced throughout history – from today’s modern praise ballads to the hymns of the last century, the famous composers before them and even the psalms of David; the hymnbook of the ancient world. With such a vast amount of lyric and music, you would think that all that can be said would already have been said…but it isn’t. The grand staff doesn’t have enough notes and language is short of words when it comes to expounding how great God is. The lyrics of this mid-tempo ballad dwell on those facts. Our best descriptions of the Savior are just a preview of who He really is and as the lyric to this song tells us, “All of them combined have failed to describe the greatness of God’s love for everyone.”
Other Comments: Beginning with a traditional piano and a single violin, the music introduces to us a sound that is classic GV. The tune begins with Gerald, Rodney and Chris singing the first verse and chorus and then Rodney is featured on the second verse. I felt that the tempo was on the slower side when I first heard it, but it picks up speed and ends on an up-beat note.
3 Toes In The Water
Feature: Rodney Griffin
Message: Faith is as vast as the ocean – you can stand in the shallows or dive in the deep. Either way, God is waiting to see how many of His children willing to go to the depths with Him. Many of them have even made promises to do so, but if we’re honest, we have failed in many areas. Yet, the reward for obedience isn’t far from the shore when you begin to walk in faith and take the Savior’s hand. So the question is… Are you committed? Have you surrendered? Are you driven? Have you answered the call? Remember, blessings come when you’re wet… Where do you stand today? In the deep? Or, are your toes barely touching the water?
Other Comments: The song kicks off with the piano beating out a “triplet” and then the drums and brass joining in the lively tune. You’ll continue to hear that distinct piano and brass sound throughout the song and I dare say it almost gives it a “Pentecostal feel.” This is a very catchy number that will have your toes tappin’ to the beat.
4 He Does
Feature: Chris Allman
Message: Has anyone felt that their sin was beyond mercy? The writer says, “I have.” Has anyone thought that praying was wasting time? Again, a voice answers, “I have too.” Has anyone felt like they crossed the line? “Yes,” the voice continues, “I’ve been there too…but there’s hope.” The chorus explains how the Lord is the answer to every one of those feelings. Whatever we are in need of He can supply. I love the line that says, “Because He knew there’d come a day when you would need to call His name…” The second verse flips from the negatives in the first verse and speaks of the positive benefits we experience when we trust in Him. Now, we have many reasons why we can now be joyful when the skies are dark and thankful for each day. When the past tries to haunt our heart, we can think back on all the things He does…
Other Comments: A gentle swelling of the strings and a few strums on the acoustic guitar open this soft ballad. The music is what I like to call “easy listening” – mellow on the ear, yet, strong enough to move the spirit. And so you’ll continue to hear those gliding strings throughout the piece and if you listen close enough, you will hear that guitar being plucked fingerstyle. The focal point of the song is Chris’s voice and I like how the track truly stays in the background and lets the tenor stand in the spotlight.
5 In The Sandals of Daniel
Feature: Rodney Griffin
Message: “The king decreed, that all must bow and deny Jehovah now…” But that didn’t stop Daniel from praying. Though he was persecuted and thrown into the lion’s den, his trust in God remained firm. With such faith displayed, the questions of the chorus arise. Would I bend under the pressure, no matter how extreme? Would I stand up for what I believe, even if I’m the only one? Would I still pray faithfully, even if the act was made illegal like it was in Daniels day? What if I had to follow in the footsteps of Daniel to a modern day lion’s den? The second stanza brings a list of blessings we enjoy: freedom to pray, sing, worship. Yet, if that were to change, the song says, I pray to have the faith of Daniel.
Other Comments: This song is difficult to describe musically. My first thought is, “That’s a GV song” – straight up Southern Gospel with a touch of fiddle and piano. Yet, the strange combination of a banjo, piano and steady beat on the drum start this song. Later on you’ll hear the lead guitar and fiddle come in again. This is one of the neatest tracks you’ll hear- it has the elements of a Country song but doesn’t sound like one. It’s a favorite of mine from this CD and reminds me how solid GV’s sound is; in that they can create music that sounds distinctly like them and not any other kind of music. 🙂
6 Let The Blood Of Calvary Speak For Me
Feature: Rodney Griffin
Message: At first this song can be easily overlooked as just another “song about the blood,” but the thoughts conveyed in the lyrics are really a gem. I appreciate them most when given my full attention, clearing my mind of all else and letting the message sink in. The first verse paints the picture of a person’s work on earth ending and imagining what it would be like to stand before the throne, they state, “If I’m called to give an answer let the blood speak for me…” The blood has a cleansing factor that imputes righteousness where originally, there was none. The chorus goes on to say that it shields us from judgment and covers all sin. Simply put, nothing we do can is more effective than the blood. The second verse imagines what it would be like to have friends and family give “a good word” for you before the throne…but then, what is that compared to the simple cry for grace? The cry that pleads “Let the blood speak for me!”
Other Comments: Musically, this ballad features an orchestra that slowly builds to a grand ending – one that displays the touch of a Goss arrangement at its finest. When a lone brasswind comes in, it’s at just the right moment and adds a “softness” to the piece – when the percussion rolls the cymbals at the beginning of the second chorus, it’s like a subtle indicator that the music is getting stronger. The ballad is beautiful! …both musically and lyrically.
7 Never Will I Ever Again
Feature: Chris Allman
Message: Beginning with the refrain, the lyrics exclaim that there has never been and will never be another who is like the Lord. A burden bearer, forgiver, friend. No, there’s simply no other like Him. The first stanza recalls three Old Testament stories that illustrate the awesome, unique power of God’s deliverance – Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the furnace, yet not burnt. Israel hedged in by the Red Sea, yet dry land to walk upon and Jonah in the belly of the whale, yet, placed right in the city where he needed to be! The next stanza continues to meditate upon His matchless character and points out some much needed encouraging words for the saints!
Other Comments: A fiddle launches us into this peppy tune with a guitar or two; good steady beat and a Country sound. I love this song! It has a great beat and a strong message – Chris does a great job on delivering the verses as well. If you like hearing an old-fashioned fiddle, then I think you’ll like this one too!
8 I Do Know
Feature: Rodney Griffin
Message: Life on this earth is so unpredictable. A simple 24 hour day can go from being wonderful to turning your world up-side down. That’s what this song talks about; the things we don’t know and the things that we do know. As the first verse states, no one can look ahead or know how even this day will end. Tomorrow? Uncertain. Yet, we know the promise of what’s to come! The refrain tells us what that glorious thing is: a paradise spent in sweet worship of the One who loved us so. There, the second verse tells us, we’ll be united with loved ones, free from fear of sickness, death not allowed entrance and eternal happiness. The bridge sums it up well, “I don’t have to understand the path when I know it leads me home…”
Other Comments: This is one of those sweet, soothing songs that you can listen to over and over again. The theme is one of quiet strength and will no doubt comfort many people who are walking through the dark hours.
9 Saved By The Same Grace
Feature: Chris Allman
Message: The story begins in a church downtown. An old man sat towards the front and young boy in the back, but when they heard the message of grace, both came forward. The chorus explains how two very different people could experience the same thing – because, though their sin was different, it was the same cross and the same blood that cleansed their lives; they were saved by the same grace. That day, the elder had a bleak past to leave behind and the boy had a bright future to look forward to. Their needs were different, but the “touch of grace was sufficient for both!”
Other Comments: Chris Allman and Rodney Griffin co-wrote this mid-temp song about grace. Even though the recording isn’t a live performance, you can hear the passion behind the delivery as Chris sings the lyrics.
10 As We Speak
Feature: Gerald Wolfe
Message: The ballad begins with a voice softly singing, “I enjoy our talks…” This same one desires to forget the daily cares of life and rest in the Father’s arm instead. They observe how so many rush to and fro, working to accomplish things without speaking to the One for whom they dedicate their acts. Yet, the chorus recounts the experience of this one who has found the ultimate peace… It’s found in prayer. The place where this person has felt, as it were, the arms of God around them; filled with that peace and love that can only be communicated when they speak. Now, this does not mean that this one never experiences feelings of confusion and hopelessness. For as the second verse says, they do. The difference is that they know how to overcome it – through speaking to the Father and listening to Him as He speaks…
Other Comments: By now, you’re probably wondering if you’ll ever hear Gerald featured on this CD, but he saves his performance for the final track, for which the project is named. This is a soft ballad that builds and intensifies with the lyrics. A very real, moving lyric about prayer!
Conclusion: When I first listened to this CD I took an immediate liking to the fast songs; the ballads had strong messages and great music, but I kept finding myself wanting to skip to the songs like “In the Sandals of Daniel” and “Never Will I Ever Again.” Then, as time went on, I began to really listen to the ballads. I began to hear the lyrics and gained a deep appreciation for what they said and how the music matched each one perfectly. Now, I want skip the fast ones to hear those ballads! When you hear this music, you feel the depth of it reach your soul and the lyrics touch a place deep in your heart. When Greater Vision releases a CD I think fans expect a certain kind of excellence in lyrical depth and musical techniques and I believe As We Speak takes its place among the great projects GV has recorded over the years. It certainly is worthy of a five star rating!