An Engaging, Stylistically Diverse Record That Showcases Wes Hampton’s Substantial Talent
Release Date: March 11, 2014
Label: Independent Release
Length: 48 minutes, 29 seconds
- Reality (featuring Jason Barton) (Sam Mizell, Jason Barton)
- Need Him The Most (featuring the Martins) (Sam Mizell, Carl Cartee)
- Wrestling The Wind (featuring Charlotte Ritchie) (Kip Fox, Sam Mizell)
- Nothing Can Take You From Me (Kenna West, Lee Black)
- Weakest Part (Bernie Herms, Sam Mizell)
- Me And God (featuring the Hampton Boys) (Wes Hampton, Joyce Martin Sanders, Sam Mizell)
- Echo Of You (featuring Steve Green & David Phelps) (Dwight Liles, Sam Mizell)
- You Can’t Hold Me Back (Kip Fox, Sam Mizell)
- My Father’s House (featuring David Phelps) (Kip Fox, Sam Mizell)
- Cross On A Hill (Kip Fox, Sam Mizell)
- Eternal (Kip Fox, Sam Mizell)
- He Is Here (Live version with Marshall Hall) (Kirk L. Talley)
(NOTE: On October 14, 2014, Reality was re-released through a major label under the title Out on a Limb. The review below is still valid, however, as the songs are the same on both versions of the album. For more information, including a look at the new CD cover, please see my post here. )
Wes Hampton is best known as a member of the Gaither Vocal Band. Though his tenure dates back to 2005, Hampton has gone a bit overlooked, perhaps in part because the GVB’s most recent lineup included three juggernauts. Like the other members, when the Vocal Band has down time, Wes gets out on the road to do solo shows. In 2011, he released his first solo recording, A Man Like Me. And if there was any doubt what Wes Hampton could do when stepping from a supporting role into the spotlight, his followup record, Reality, crushes it.
Some would argue that God is not a reality; that He is a construct created by man. Wes Hampton’s new project reminds listeners that the truth is the opposite: God made us, and He continues to shape our world, our lives, our meaning. On title track “Reality,” Hampton, with the support of Jason Barton of 33 Miles, asks God for reminders: “You’re the only one that’s real / You’re the only one who’s truth… / the only one who’s love…the only one enough.” Indeed, no matter how things may appear in our limited view, God’s eternity is our reality.
Because God is our reality, our need for Him is great. Hampton addresses this on several songs. On the spirited country-flavored “Need Him The Most,” Hampton and The Martins profess their reliance while bubbling over with joy at God’s provision. On the delicate “Wrestling The Wind,” Wes and friend Charlotte Ritchie sing about the perpetual tug-of-war we play with ourselves trying to go it alone, before ultimately throwing our hands up and returning to God in humble admission: “I can’t live without You / Not even one breath without You.” Finally, upbeat “Weakest Part” acknowledges that our weaknesses create opportunities for God’s redemptive power: “My out of luck is Your chance to win / My out of time is the moment when.”
Reality includes two songs written from a loving father to his children. On the beautiful “Nothing Can Take You From Me,” Hampton ably lends a soothing voice to our Heavenly Father’s eternal promise to remain at our side. Wes makes a similar pledge on “Me And God” when he sings to, and with, his own children. Though he admits that he “can’t fix everything,” he assures his sons that He and God will always be there with love and support. The song speaks in language that applies to children’s everyday lives, so as kids sing along with the Hampton boys, the message will seep into their hearts.
Hampton and GVB “brother” David Phelps are both in fine voice on “My Father’s House,” a melodic open-invitation to come “and leave all [our] burdens at the door.” Though we are invited to enter God’s house, we might be reluctant to invite Him into our hearts. Luckily, nothing deters Christ in His pursuit of us. Indeed, “You Can’t Hold Me Back” is what Jesus declares.
David Phelps and Steve Green guest on one of the album’s finest cuts, the dramatic “Echo Of You.” Together the three pour out their deepest prayer to the Lord: “Let my life be the echo of You.” As inspiring as the arrangement is grand, this track will spur listeners to aspire to be led by a heart that desires to be a reflection of God’s love.
Reality challenges its listeners to re-dedicate, re-focus, and re-prioritize. Questioning whether “the hands that we’re using to throw these stones [will] ever open and refocus their power,” soulful “Cross On A Hill” points us directly to Calvary to “find the Father’s will.” While “Eternal” reminds us that love defines our lives and, when our earthly days have ended, it is love that survives us and is remembered by those we leave behind.
Hampton began by demonstrating how God shapes our reality, so it’s fitting that, in a sparkling live moment, Wes and friend Marshall Hall should revisit God’s omnipresence with the Kirk Talley composition “He is Here.” “Listen closely,” they implore, “hear Him calling out your name / He is here, you can touch Him / You will never be the same.”
— Dawn Teresa
4 of 5 Hearts. An Engaging, Stylistically Diverse Record That Showcases Wes Hampton’s Substantial Talent.
Though Wes Hampton has heretofore gone relatively unheralded, his presence has solidified the Gaither Vocal Band’s beautiful harmonies. Now, with the help of gifted songwriters like two-time Dove Award winner Sam Mizzell, whose credits include seven No. 1 songs, as well as Kip Fox and Kenna West (to name a few), Hampton lingers no longer in the shadows of his GVB cohorts. Reality points listeners to the truth — that our Father is a living God who keeps His promises and never leaves our side.
Producers: Sam Mizell and Wes Hamtponr
Players: Sam Mizell, James Gregory, Ben Phillips, Mike Payne, Greg Hagan, Andy Leftwich
Additional Vocals & Background Vocals: David Phelps, The Martins (Joyce, Judy, & Jonathan), Steve Green, Charlotte Ritchie, Jason Barton, Nicki Conley, Sam Mizell, The Hampton Boys