It’s interesting that despite the long duration of his career, with all it’s admitted ups and downs, that Michael English has never recorded a live album or video. Granted, as English jokes, he’s done something like “400 videos with Bill Gaither,” he’s never had the opportunity to do so as a solo artist. But now, with the invitation of Daywind Studios, English is finally adding that notch to his belt and for fans it’s sure to be a welcome addition.
In keeping with the series’ format, the CD/DVD package features a mixture of live songs, performed in a tastefully intimate settings at Daywind with a live band interspersed among prerecorded interview segments with southern gospel statesman Gerald Wolfe. It’s a format that’s a perfect fit for a story like English’s, allowing him the opportunity to share a wide variety of hits while giving fans and listeners a look into the heart of the artist and his testimony.
Musically, this release spans the whole of English’s career, finding him showcase hits from his early southern gospel days like “Daystar,” a track he attributes to changing the course of his life, to his early solo hits like “Solid As A Rock” and “Mary, Did You Know?” A “Hope Medley” offers a broad look into English’s solo success, offering tasty samples of “Holding Out Hope to You,” “Love Moves in Mysterious Ways,” “Your Love Amazes Me,” and “Save Me” while more recent favorites like “Please Forgive Me” and “Come to the River,” with a surprise guest performance from Russ Taff shine.
English’s diversity shows on his bluesy take on “Blessed Assurance,” his vocals right at home in the rich, gritty textures while delivering the familiar lyric as “Feels Like Redemption,” sung right before an interview segment in which English poignantly shares his powerful testimony has perfect placement, the poetic lines of forgiveness a perfect mirror to the artist’s story. And of course no English concert would be complete without two of the artist’s biggest hits, a reworked rendering of “In Christ Alone” and his signature track, “I Bowed On My Knees and Cried Holy,” which receives an added boost with guest vocals from Karen Harding.
The interview segments provide some unique insights into English’s life as he shares about his early life and his journey through the Christian music world. And while the stories of his musical development and early days are interesting, it’s his testimony that really connects as he shares his long journey of life with ADHD, panic disorders, and more that have challenged him throughout his career and which, he readily admits, found him making poor choices. But the grace of God has shown throughout English’s life and his humility and emotion in telling his story really hammers it home and should stand as a strong encouragement to anyone listening.
Michael English’s Live at Daywind Studios captures the artist at his best, performing before a live audience with a live band. His voice is right at home in these songs and while he may sing them an octave lower than in the past, the result is still the same as he delivers them with soulful passion.