Over the years, Southern Gospel Music has come to associate the term excellence with the name Mark Trammell. From his days with the legendary Cathedral Quartet to the founding of America’s favorite trio, Greater Vision, and then on to his days with Gold City, it is easy to say that quality has followed this man wherever his path hath taken him. Now, with a quartet of his own, it is no surprise to find that even after 40 years in full time ministry his career is still going strong. In 2010, the Mark Trammell Trio grew into the Mark Trammell Quartet and the quartet’s new release, Your Walk Talks, is a perfect example of the quality one would expect to hear behind the name fans have come to respect so much.
Your Walk Talks is the quartet’s second CD of all “new songs” written by several of the genre’s best writers, including a few from the pen of Mark’s son, Nick Trammell. It also features the group’s new tenor, Dustin Black on his very own ballad, “I Wouldn’t Have it Any Other Way.” While we are on the track of mentioning all the new things that this project is introducing to the Southern Gospel world, it’s worthy to point out that Your Walk Talks is the first recording from the new label, Crimson Road Productions, founded by Mark Trammell and Jeff Haney. Announced on Christmas Eve, the founders of Crimson Road Productions look forward to building this new label’s future one artist at a time.
“This is our ‘maiden voyage’ project for the new Crimson Road label and is not only a labor of love but a collection of some great new songs from some our favorite writers as well as a couple of older songs with GREAT messages. Most people know that I like songs with heart so this project will be more of the same good material from MTQ.” – Mark Trammell
Tenor – Dustin Black
Lead – Nick Trammell
Baritone – Mark Trammell
Bass – Pat Barker
1 Don’t Stop Running
Feature: Nick Trammell
Message: In Philippians 3:14 Paul says, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God.” In another place he says, “I have finished my course.” In other words, don’t stop running the race of faith until you reach your reward in heaven. Whether it be helping our brethren on the course, trudging through the storm or keeping our focus on the prize we are encouraged to keep on. He’s promised His hand of deliverance to all who believe, so claim that promise and don’t let fear, temptation or discouragement hold you back!
Other Comments: Nick Trammell is featured vocally on the second verse, but that’s not the only thing that features him on this song, if you take a peek at the credits on the CD, you’ll notice that Nick wrote Don’t Stop Running. During the Blog Tour I had the opportunity to ask Nick a few questions and one of them was, “What’s the story behind this song?” If you haven’t already read the Your Walk Talks Blog Tour, you can click HERE to see his answer. This up-beat tune was a great way to start the project!
2 God’s Been Faithful
Feature: Mark Trammell
Message: When all hope was gone for my soul the Lord saved me…and ever since then He’s been all I’ve ever needed. He’s been a Rock and a Friend, the One who fulfilled every desire and sent healing when all should have been lost. From the time He found me wandering aimlessly through life to the times He’s brought me through the desert, “He’s been faithful to me.”
Other Comments: Written by Dianne Wilkinson and Scott Inman, this “slower ballad” showcases the best of both worlds – a steady beat combined with a touch of strings. This is the kind of song that has a meaty message in a laid back rhythm. It’s easy to listen to, yet, has that climax at the end of the second verse that will make you smile when you hear Mark sing, “He has brought me through my trials every time!”
3 When the King Comes to Claim His Throne
Message: The setting of this song is that time when Christ will reign for 1000 years in the Millennium. What makes this tune so remarkable is the attention to detail. Every word has been carefully chosen to portray the 1000 year reign of Christ and nothing else – it is impossible to confuse the lyrics with any other event, like the second coming or eternity. References to “Satan will be bound” and “The King will rule from His temple in Jerusalem” are great examples of this.
Other Comments: After listening to this snappy convention song about the Millennium, you won’t be surprised to find that it was written by Dianne Wilkinson. It has been said that if Dianne were to get cut she would bleed quartet music; and When the King Comes to Claim His Throne is another great example of Dianne’s ability to keep this legendary style of music alive and fresh. No one member of the group is really featured but each brings out their part at just the right moment.
4 Thanks to Calvary
Feature: Pat Barker
Message: This life changing story is told through the eyes of one who, after salvation, returned to the places that once occupied their life, and saw the difference that Calvary made there. First, he went to the establishment where his old friends would get together. When they saw him they asked why he hadn’t joined them and with tears he answered, “Thanks to Calvary…I don’t come here anymore.” Then he went to the house he once lived in, frightened, his son ran and hid himself. So, he reminded his son that he had a new dad and, thanks to Calvary, they don’t live there anymore. “Without Calvary all we can hope to do is turn over a new leaf. Calvary allows us the chance to have a change that is permanent. True hope and abundant life come from Calvary.” – Pat Barker
Other Comments: Once again, the Mark Trammell Quartet has selected a gem from the repertoire of the Cathedrals and made it their own. Though MTQ’s track is theirs, the arrangement doesn’t differ that much from the original. What makes this a great pick in my opinion, is the quartet’s ability to take a song that many would consider one of George’s signature songs, and not just pull it off, but master it.
5 I’ll Go Over Jordan Someday
Message: The land beyond Jordan is one where loved ones wait, joy resides and sorrow flees. Soon, we’ll go over the final obstacle and arrive at the gate of heaven, the “land beyond the tide,” and leave the days of sin behind us. Until then, we walk with the Master on our journey below, happy in His presence.
Other Comments: When Mark mentioned that there were a few “older songs” on the project, this was one he had in mind. Penned by Shrader Jones, the lyrics and beat are “quartet singing” at its finest.
6 Man of Sorrows
Feature: Mark Trammell
Message: What makes this ballad so powerful, in my opinion, is the lack of self and emphasis on Christ. Instead of listening to the heartaches, valleys and trials I/we face, we hear about the sorrows of Someone else. For four minutes we enter a world of pure worship. With phrases like “acquainted with grief,” “smitten of God,” and “man of sorrows,” it is easy to see the resemblance to Isaiah 53 come out in the theme. Beyond that, we get a tiny glimpse of the long list of things Christ suffered, through the verses of this ballad. On the other hand, the chorus tells us what the reality of those sufferings meant for us in the end. It’s beautiful. The writer’s ability to tell you what you have in Christ with only referencing you three times is both amazing and refreshing. The emphasis is all on Him.
Other Comments: There are so many things I love about this ballad I’m not sure where to start! First of all, Rebecca J. Peck and Dianne Wilkinson are the writers behind this masterpiece. Playing off the ideas set forth in the hymn, Man of Sorrows What a Name (which is used as the bridge), they have constructed a beautiful song! Mark’s voice is perfect for the feature and the use of not only the original hymn, but another classic you’ll hear Dustin Black take the lead on for a line or two before the last chorus, makes this song flawless.
7 Your Walk Talks
Feature: Mark Trammell
Message: “Your walk talks louder than your talk talks…” It’s easy to miss the meaning behind those words as we get taken up in the fun beat of the song, but when we stop and listen to the lyrics we find that there is a distinct message in every line. The Pharisees thought they had a perfect testimony…so perfect that they ended up condemning the Lord because He spent time with “sinners.” But as we learn in the chorus, how we treat others demonstrates how much we really care about the people the Lord died to save. Walking in God’s love will add a multitude to the kingdom when talking about it is ineffective. It’s when we are being like Jesus that folks take notice and pay attention. Not so much your talk…but your walk!
Other Comments: Brilliant. That’s the first word that comes to mind on how to describe this song written by Babbie Mason and Rodney Griffin. When the track begins you’ll hear the acoustic guitar pluck out a rising melody and then the quartet starts singing what will become the “turn-a-round.” If you thought you’ve heard good quartet singing so far on this project, this number will take it up a notch. It’s that good. Click HERE if you’d like to read about when it was written in Alaska!
8 To Know He Knows Me
Feature: Nick Trammell
Message: To make a mistake and be forgiven and then to know someone will make a mistake and forgive them still…is a whole different kind of love. The lyrics to this song call it “A love that is real.” If we could see the “big picture” we would never doubt God’s perfect love again. If we could look ahead and see all the mistakes we’ll make and see that none of those miss-steps interfere with His affection for us we’d never hesitate to believe what His Word so clearly says. Which is simply this: He didn’t have to pay for our sin on the cross…but grace lead Him on. He didn’t have to save us when we asked Him to…but He promised it anyway. He didn’t have to love us when He knew us…but His love came to stay.
Other Comments: Nick Trammell and Rodney Griffin co-wrote this song. (The track reminds me of Tribute’s song “More Than Able” from their The Waiting Is Over project.) Like “God’s Been Faithful” it has an easy feel to it and is soothing to listen to.
9 I’ll Take it to the Grave
Feature: Pat Barker
Message: We’ve all heard it preached, “When you die, you can’t take anything with you!” But the lyrics to this tune disagree. The assurance of salvation, the promise that we’ll stand before the Lord and the hope of resurrected bodies at Christ’s return are all things that we will take with us when we go. Nothing can take those precious truths from us…we’ll take ‘em to the grave. When that happens, all the heartaches of this world won’t be able to touch us, all sorrows will flee and every worry will no longer matter. Hallelujah!
Other Comments: This is another great quartet song from the pen of Dianne Wilkinson and Rebecca J. Peck! Thanks to Calvary and I’ll Take it to the Grave is a magical combination for bass singer, Pat Barker. In one you get the ballad and in the other the barn burner. No two other songs could showcase Pat’s vocal ability better than these two! I’ll Take it to the Grave has everything you need to get your toes tappin’!
10 I Wouldn’t Have it Any Other Way
Feature: Dustin Black
Message: The truth of Scripture exposes the uncleanness of human nature and the hopelessness of trying to gain entry into heaven in that condition…but the blood of Christ made the way possible. Would you want salvation to be any other way? The writer of this song wouldn’t. Grace is the reason why we can be saved and the blood is the agent through which it takes place – there simply is not a better plan than that! If you’re a child of God, you too can agree with the second verse, “It’s settled now for I’m redeemed, set free from condemnation! Nothing could have rescued me but Christ and Christ alone…”
Other Comments: Last but not least, this mellow arrangement turns the spotlight on the tenor part, Dustin Black. This was Dustin’s first time to record and so then, I Wouldn’t Have it Any Other Way is officially “his song.” He does a wonderful job with the lyric and his voice is a perfect fit for the melody.
Conclusion: We have a bad habit of talking about quartet music as if it’s a thing of the past, but as we see with The Mark Trammell Quartet’s new CD, it’s also the music of the future. Our writers are keeping it alive by writing great songs like “I’ll Take it to the Grave,” “Your Walk Talks” and “God’s Been Faithful,” and quartets like MTQ are doing their part by recording these great songs with quality and class. When you listen to these songs, you want to hear more. You can’t just listen to it once or twice – Your Walk Talks will be one that stays on the keeper shelf for good. For great lyrics, arrangements and superb singing I give this CD five stars.