Those familiar with Jay Armsworthy’s past recordings will know he works in a calm, even-handed singing style and with a soft, mid-range voice.
While he can and does rise up on occasion, letting the emotion fly when necessary, his is a style and voice well-suited to slower, more introspective type songs, a type of song that is dominant on this long-planned gospel project for Blue Circle Records. Of the 12 tracks included, no less than seven are of this style, and it is among them, for the most part, that the listener will find many of the recording’s best songs.
Roy Acuff’s “I’m Dying A Sinner’s Death” is a good case in point. While I suppose it would be possible to sing this in an overtly emotional style, the song’s story of a man reflecting on and warning against a sinful life works better when cast in weary resignation. That is just the approach that Armsworthy brings to it. Two tracks later is “The Streets Of Gold,” a song he found on a demo several years ago. Again, it is a song that seems to work best in a measured, conversational style. The same could be said for Dee Gaskin’s 3/4 time “His Coming Is Nigh At The Door” and for “Power Of Prayer.” The latter is taken also in 3/4 and has a slight, modal feel, albeit with some interesting chord punctuations that reflect the writer’s (Phyllis Horne) jazz background.
Of the faster songs, “Don’t Let Go Of My Hand,” from the pen of Troy Engle, Tom T. and Dixie Hall, deserves recognition. Easily among the best tracks on the recording, it is a bright, uplifting song which Armsworthy gives a nice reading. “Mansion God Is Building” is also nicely done. Supporting Armsworthy on this solid effort are Kristin Scott Benson, Wayne Benson, Greg Luck, Jason Moore, Don Rigsby, and Aaron Till. (Blue Circle Records, P.O. Box 681286, Franklin, TN 37068, www.bluecirclerecords.com.) BW