(Note: This is my first ever CD review, so I apologize if this review is different from what you are used to.)
Ryan Seaton developed quite a number of fans throughout the years as lead singer for Ernie Haase & Signature Sound. However, he is flying solo now, and The Stage Is Bare is his debut project. The CD is available on his website (www.RyanSeaton.com) and from Crossroads Music (www.CrossroadsMusic.com) for $14, or you can go the route I went and purchase the digital download for $4 cheaper.
After listening through the entire project, it’s clear that this is not a Southern Gospel project. I believe the title song is the only one that could be classified as a true SG song, and I still am not quite positive on that one. So if SG is all you listen to, this is not the project for you. However, I feel like the wide array of styles in this project fit Seaton perfectly.
1. I Feel a Song Comin’ On – This song serves as a nice beginning point for this project. A 20 second big band intro leads into this song that has more of a jazzy feeling.
2. Someone Up There Loves Me – Another upbeat song, with a different type of feeling. I think this song could easily be played on a CCM station. The chorus of this song involves Seaton and the background singers going back and forth, until the last line when they sing together.
3. Daddy’s Little Girl – This is a precious song to Seaton’s two daughters. I think this is the first song on the project that really features the smoothness of his voice. It starts at a slow pace and soft tone, but it builds up to the final time through the chorus, where Seaton really shines.
4. His Love Is Deeper – I’m not sure what to think of this slower song. Its sung really quietly, almost has a bit of a whisper in his voice. I think he does perform it well, but it’s just not one of my favorites so far.
5. When I Think of Home – This is an old Bryan Duncan song. I never heard Duncan’s version, so I have nothing to compare it to. However, I do enjoy Seaton’s performance in this one. He doesn’t belt ot the lyrics, so it gives this song another one of the tender, sweet feelings.
6. Blessed Assurance – This is the same old hymn we’re used to, but Seaton definitely puts a new twist on the song. I think this is one of the stronger songs on the project.
7. Put A Face With A Name – I wasn’t sure about this song when I first heard it, but it is definitely growing on me as time goes on. This is another song that I think could be played on a CCM station.
8. Smile – I never thought I’d say this in a CD review, but this is a song previously recorded by Michael Jackson. Yes, THAT Michael Jackson. When I found that out, I couldn’t believe it. However, Seaton delivers this song wonderfully.
9. My Turn Now – We go from Michael Jackson to Steven Curtis Chapman, without missing a beat. I think this is easily my favorite song on this project. Such a catchy tune, and Seaton sells it well. This song fits him well. Maybe not as well as SCC did it, but still is very good quality.
10. The Stage Is Bare – We are to the final track of the 10-song project, and finally to the title track. Not sure I’ve ever seen that done before, but regardless, this is another song done well. After doing a little research, I discovered that this song was written by Bill and Gloria Gaither, and has been previously recorded by Sandi Patty. I think this song suits him perfectly. He has the voice for it, and I don’t think another set of lyrics could more perfectly describe his situation.
Overall, I think this was an excellent debut album from Ryan Seaton. I’m not sure if any other artist could transition from Bryan Duncan to Michael Jackson to Sandi Patty to Steven Curtis Chapman, let alone on their first ever solo project. While the fact that this is not really a SG project may detract some listeners and buyers, I have no doubt that those who buy it will appreciate it.
This project really let Seaton showcase his vocals. We saw potential while he was with EHSS singing songs like Beyond the Blues and Pray for Me, but now we can see some of that potential coming to life. This was a $10 that was well-spent.