When was the last time you faced a storm in life? Something that tossed you to and fro in the turbulent waves… Something that made you look up to find a ray of sunshine through the clouds… Something that made you wonder if the Captain abandoned your ship? Do you remember what it felt like when that storm passed and you were ready to move on? Do you recall the relief, joy and peace you felt? Well, the Mark Trammell Quartet has recorded a new CD with ten songs that capture those feelings through lyrics and orchestrations that will remind you of the hope we have in Christ – the hope that gives us strength to move on with the next part of our journey – the strength to continue at the Captain’s command, “Full sail.”
Let’s Talk Lyrics…
You can’t have a song without a songwriter, and to have the quality of material that MTQ records takes the finest. No wonder then, that we find writers such as Rodney Griffin, Diane Wilkinson, Rebecca Peck and Henry Slaughter among those credited as penning the themes that make up this CD. Perhaps the most interesting note is the first co-written song between Rodney Griffin and Diane Wilkinson. Go Show John marks the first time these two writers have come together and collaborated on a song, and I think listeners will hear the strengths of each writer shine through these lyrics. Each time I listen to this CD, I hear a theme that is written in a traditional, hymn-like sound but speaks to the listener living in a modern world. The practicality, relevance and application to life are heard in each lyric. That alone, makes this a recording that will stay in your CD player for a very long time.
What Has Changed?
If there is one thing you can count on from the Mark Trammell Quartet, it’s consistency. In their sound, in the quality of the lyric and in the presentation – so this paragraph is going to be really short! LOL! Whether you compare Full Sail with the quartet’s last table project, Rewind, or the previous main-line recording, Your Walk Talks; you will find the music in unison with the group’s history. Mark Trammell has put his stamp on this project as executive producer, along with producers Jeff Collins and Trey Ivey. It is also worthy to note that Full Sail is the first main-line CD that newest member, Blake Buffin, appears on. Blake joined the quartet in 2015 and appeared on Rewind as well, but really shines on the ballads he sings on Full Sail.
1 All The Way Home
Featured Singer: None
Message: All of God’s children have one thing in common – their journey began at the cross and will end in heaven; but in between now and then, we’ll cover a lot of ground. Some of it will be high in the mountains and other parts will descend into the valleys, but as the first verse of this tune says, we can depend on the goodness of God’s grace for each step of the way. The refrain testifies of divine protection from above. This includes safety on the way, guidance and the assurance that the Lord will fight your battles. With these thoughts in mind, the second verse goes on to explain how such truths can impact our perspective. We recognize God’s delivering love from difficult times and press toward that city where we will dwell with Him. This earth below, though pleasant as it can be at times, won’t be missed when we reach home.
Other Comments: I hit play and the first note I hear comes from the piano. Ah, I sigh in satisfaction, quartet music at its best. The descending intro is followed by the instruments that make up a traditional Gospel band, drums and bass guitar. Yet, great music and great singers aren’t the only things that make this song a delightful quartet number. When the chorus nears, each member follows their part to a different melody making the opening track a convention song. If MTQ has mastered one thing, its quartet music, and All The Way Home is a fine example.
2 My Faith Still Holds
Featured Singer: Mark Trammell
Message: Very seldom do you hear, whether in song or sermon, the essence of the Christian life described so clearly and so simply as it is in this lyric. Beginning with the chorus, we hear the anthem, “My faith still holds unto the Christ of Calvary…” Going on to exalt the One who is our rock and hiding place, we reach the place where, with joy, we no longer place our trust in what our eyes can see, but in the Savior alone. The first verse explains that human nature clings to what the naked eye can see. Sometimes, if we don’t have something people can look at, we think they won’t be able to understand why we are so devoted to this cause. But as life goes on, we learn everything that can be seen will one day perish and then, the greatest confidence one can have is in knowing the One we feel in our hearts. Continuing on, the next verse speaks of another reality we have that is unseen – heaven. As we follow the path marked out by the Savior we know beyond the shadow of a doubt that we are headed towards home, and the key to living in peace until that time is holding onto Jesus, Who made it possible.
Other Comments: A roll on the drums and swelling arpeggio from the orchestra opens this ballad. Such a grand entrance gives us a taste of what’s to come; strings, brasswinds, a choir and arrangement that will stir your soul. You will also hear the Voices of Lee, directed by Danny Murry, on the chorus. Between the music and a stellar delivery from Mark Trammell, this ballad from the pen of Bill and Gloria Gaither immediately reached out to me the first time I heard it. I can listen to the lyrics every day and never tire of the application and truth within. Every aspect of this ballad can be wrapped up in two words – a gem.
3 Go Show John
Featured Singer: Nick Trammell
Message: You’ve heard just about every Bible story set to music, right? But if you haven’t heard a lyric that speaks of John the Baptist sending his disciples to ask Jesus if He was the Messiah, then pay close attention to Go Show John. The first line sets the stage; John the Baptist is in prison, he heard Jesus’ preaching and wanted to believe. Yet, the throne was empty and Rome still in power. So, John sent his followers to ask Jesus, “Are you the Messiah?” The chorus is our Lord’s answer. Listing the things He’s done, He shows these men things only the Messiah would do. The blind see, the lame run, leprosy is cured and the dead are raised to life. He claimed to be the Prophet, Preacher and King. Surely, this evidence is convincing! Jesus told those who were sent to Him, “Go show John these things!” The second verse relates how this story applies to our modern world… Like John the Baptist, there are days we’re discouraged and have our fears. Is the promise of God I’m clinging to ever going to come to pass? You know what? I don’t think God is upset when we cry out to Him in frustration. He sees the big picture and knows that everything will be okay; but until then, He whispers the same encouragement to us… Have you seen the things He’s done? That’s enough to build your faith upon.
Other Comments: Lead guitar, fiddle and a light beat on the drums kick off this snappy tune written by Rodney Griffin. When you put all those instruments together, you’ll hear a hint of country in the track. Maybe it’s the fiddle on the second verse that’s begging to be “let loose,” regardless, this is a unique lyric backed by a friendly track I know you’ll enjoy.
4 Treasures In Heaven
Featured Singer: Randy Byrd
Message: Whether you turn to Matthew 7 or 1 Corinthians 3:15, you will find Scriptures that talks about a kind of treasure that will last long after this life. This tune begins with the chorus which simply repeats the message in Matthew’s Gospel, “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven that will not pass away.” The lyric goes on to beg us to store these riches up each morn and not to wait until the trumpet sounds when we won’t have the opportunity to live for Christ the same way we do now. After another line of “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven,” we hear the first verse that warns us not to set our eyes on things that will perish. One day, all the things we worked for in life will be tested with the fire of God’s purity and only the things done for His Kingdom will come out as gold. The second verse instructs us how to live such a life – seek Him, walk in righteousness, be kind, gentle and loving. There is no doubt these qualities will produce a life of blessedness.
Other Comments: The first time I heard Treasures In Heaven was on Jubilee 3. When you hear MTQ’s version, you may be tempted to think that this is a completely different song, but I assure you, it’s one and the same. The Jubilee Gang sang it quite fast and featured the tenors, and here, MTQ slowed it down, gave it an easy listening swing and featured the other end of the vocal range – the bass singer! If you’re a detail person, you will notice that MTQ’s recording of this Rebecca Peck song has some extra words in the chorus; whether this was originally in the song and Jubilee cut it out, or MTQ added it, I don’t know. But I do know this, I love that MTQ broke the mold and made their recording of this song unique and something that is distinctly theirs.
5 Already In Canaan Land
Featured Singer: Mark Trammell
Message: Written in first person, this tune speaks of how there are times on my earthly journey when I just wish I could see Jesus – face to face. When I’m this way, it is like the Holy Spirit transforms everything around me and for a moment, it feels like I’m in the presence of Jesus, enjoying His awesome peace. The chorus sums it up, there are times in my experience when worshipping the Lord is so real, I would have to be in heaven for it to be any better. Simply said, I feel like I’m already there. The second verse explains the guarantee that He is with me through every trial, when things look bad, I remember that He has made a home inside; giving me a joy that defies the things I go through. Then one day, as I enter the glorious gates of heaven, I’ll recall those times on earth when I freely worshiped God and recognize what I experienced on earth – it was this feeling – of lifting my hands and praising the One who comforted me all those years ago.
Other Comments: This new quartet song from the pen of Rodney Griffin is the first radio single from Full Sail and rightly so, it has a catchy beat, great lyrics and old quartet sound. Griffin’s ability to convey practical themes that will encourage you in a modern world told through a traditional lyric astounds me every time. A great fit for MTQ, especially Mark. Before we move on to the next song, I’ll add how much I appreciate the fact that a song with three verses made the final cut on a project and made it to radio. It’s a personal soap-box for me, that songwriters are told three verse songs won’t be recorded. I applaud MTQ for stepping outside of the box.
6 He Hideth My Soul
Featured Singer: Blake Buffin
Message: Following the traditional hymn, the first stanza begins by praising our Lord for how wonderful He is. The hymnwriter goes on to say that He shelters His children under the rocky fortress and sustains them by rivers of joy. The refrain goes on to expound on this place that the Lord hides us. It’s a place near a weary land, most likely the one God’s child just came from. But under the rock, He protects His beloved by encompassing them about with His love, and shielding them with His hand. But things aren’t always dreary in the life of a Christian. The second stanza speaks of how one day all of us will be changed in the twinkling of an eye and rise to meet our Savior in the heavens. Then, we’ll shout His praises with all the redeemed!
Other Comments: The gentle tones of the piano lead us into this intricate arrangement from Tommy Fairchild. Be sure to listen at time mark 2:50 to hear the guys take the dynamics of the chorus from a gentle volume to one that gains as they continue the stanza. MTQ staged this hymn at their Homecoming in Anniston, Alabama this July and I saw the audience stand to their feet in the auditorium and heard folks asking for it at their table. It’s obviously special to the audience and MTQ does a great job on the arrangement.
7 Led Out Of Bondage
Featured Singer: Randy Byrd
Message: Led Out Of Bondage is a quick re-telling of Israel’s bondage under Pharaoh and how they were delivered under the leadership of Moses through the hand of God. The story begins with stating the facts – God’s children were in slavery under the cruel hand of Pharaoh and God wanted to use Moses as a leader through which He could free His people. Yet, Moses doubted that he could convince such a powerful ruler and said, “Lord, Pharaoh ain’t gonna listen to me.” The chorus exclaims the promise of God to free His people and guide them to the land of Canaan. In the next verse, God re-assures Moses; the plagues were sent and the people freed. But just as they left Pharaoh “changed his mind” and rounded up his army – he didn’t want to give up his slaves quite yet. After another chorus, the last verse speaks of how the Children of Israel came to the Red Sea and were frightened by the army behind them. Turning to Moses, they pleaded, “What do we do?” Moses prayed to the Lord and was told to raise his rod over the waters – when he did, a path appeared to the other shore and Pharaoh’s army tried to follow them, but were buried by the water and haven’t been seen to this day!
Other Comments: Kicking off with a burst of notes from the brasswinds, this tune jumps into a steady beat that will keep your toes tapping until the end. Years ago, this song was popular among Cathedral fans and performed by George Younce; here, Randy takes the feature and is backed by “ooos” and “do-dahs” by the guys throughout the verses. Randy’s smooth vocals and storytelling abilities are just what this tune needed, and with the brass thrown in here and there, I think you’ll agree that this is one of the best “new” renditions of this classic song out there.
8 More Than You’ll Ever Know
Featured Singer: Blake Buffin
Message: This lyric only has one goal – to share with others, what the Savior means to you in a personal way. The first verse begins by saying that there are no words that qualify for this task. There is only one thing that can show you the greatness of God’s power in your life, and that is knowing what you were before you came to Christ and comparing it with the person you are now. The chorus says it best, “Christ means more to me than you’ll ever know…” Only you know the lasting changes that He’s made deep inside your heart, and because of that, it can be difficult for others to understand why the Lord means so much to you. All you can say is, “He’s more…”
Other Comments: This moving lyric hails from the treasury of old Imperial songs and is delivered with a soft track that surrounds you with strings and piano. When I first heard Blake sing this song, I was speechless. The sincerity conveyed through the verses and the rich tone carried through his voice made me stop and listen…and it has every time I’ve heard it since.
9 God Takes Good Care Of Me
Featured Singer: Mark Trammell
Message: I love older Gospel songs and “God Takes Good Care of Me” is a great example of why. The lyric isn’t dramatic – it tells a simple fact with simple thoughts, yet, they come together and make a profound impact on those who hear it. As the message of this tune says, we can see God’s goodness shine through each day of our lives and when we know that He walks with us; we don’t have a reason to be overcome with the cares of life. And why not? Hasn’t He taken care of every issue that’s arisen in our lives? Hasn’t He come through? Because of His faithfulness, we know that He is willing to handle whatever comes our way. For me. For you. Are there major problems in the world that need addressed? Yes, but we know He hears us when we pray and because of that, well, we know He’ll take of us.
Other Comments: From the pen of Henry Slaughter, a quartet song like this is just what you’d imagine Mark singing. Not only does the sound lend towards the style MTQ is known for, the message is just what we need to be reminded of in this day and time and that’s why it is such a favorite of mine. During the intro you’ll hear the guys singing a few “ooo’s” until the track continues with a traditional sound – piano, bass guitar and a steady tap on the drums.
10 Redeemer Of My Soul
Featured Singer: Nick Trammell and Mark Trammell
Message: What could draw you from the darkness of sin to the source where sinners are washed clean? – A Saviors love. As the opening verses describe, our Lord remitted every single sin ever committed through His nail pierced hands…and now you are accepted by His grace. The refrain is a chorus of praise to the One who did just that. He’s the “Redeemer of my soul,” the One who is your very life, yet, so much more. Time can continue on for infinity and you will still be singing praises to the Lord Jesus for being our redeemer and unmoving rock. The second stanza goes on to say that every time you think about His love and what He gave to demonstrate it, you’ll probably be in awe. Add to that, the truth of Romans 8:1, atonement and the voice of mercy declaring, “Gone, is every guilty stain!” and you’ll be as close to heaven as you can get on this earth! The bridge exalts the Savior and sums up everything He did on Calvary. The ballad is completed with one more round of the chorus and if that doesn’t make you want to worship the Lord, nothing will.
Other Comments: Beginning with an ascending arpeggio on the strings, the intro of this ballad gives you the hint that the orchestration is going to build…and when it does, it’s going to be big. This hymn like anthem begins with the group singing together, then features Nick on the second verse. After the chorus, the group sings the third verse and the arrangement transitions the last verse to feature Mark. Be sure to listen for the “march style” at time marker 3:30 where the music turns minor, reminding all who listen of the intensity that Christ suffered on the cross. If you listen to Randy talk about this song on the quartet’s “Official Video Trailer” below, you’ll hear him say that he thinks this song is there next “King Is Coming.” I agree with him!
Conclusion: The Mark Trammell Quartet has once again, released a project that features quality quartet music, first class orchestrations and arrangements, but more importantly, a theme and message that can minister to the modern world. If that’s not enough to convince you that you need this CD, I don’t know what will! But I will say this, after listening to Full Sail countless times I can tell you that this project was thoughtfully put together. Every song has a purpose, a message that matters. When you listen to them in order, one flows into another in a way that feels like it was constructed that way on purpose – and you will be impacted by it at the end. (iPod users – don’t shuffle! You’ll regret it! LOL!) Maybe it can’t be explained, but it can be felt, and in the end, if you feel the Spirit of God through this music, that matters more than words. Listen to these lyrics and let them strengthen you. Take hold of the lines and pull until the sails are in place…it’s time to stay the course and finish this journey victoriously, at full sail.
Purchase Full Sail here —> MTQ Store
Watch MTQ’s Album Trailer of Full Sail below!