March 2003

Mighty Sam McClain - One More Bridge to Cross
Mighty Music CD
Released: 2002

by John Crossett

Musical Performance ****1/2 *
Recording Quality ****
Overall Enjoyment ****1/2 *

One of high-end-audio's musical superstars has stepped away from the mainstream audiophile labels and released his first self-produced album. Yes folks, Mighty Sam McClain is back with a new CD, One More Bridge to Cross, on his brand-new Mighty Music label.

The one thing that hasn’t changed is McClain’s unique ability to blend the blues, soul and R&B into an entity that is very definitely more than the sum of its parts. From the opening notes of the first track, "Why Do We Have To Say Goodbye" (the Joe Hardin-penned, Bobby "Blue" Bland song -- one of two such here) through the closing title track, Mighty Sam McClain’s sound bubbles forth, washing over you, baptizing you into the congregation of the First Church of McClain. McClain wrote (or co-wrote) nine of the 13 songs here, so his faith, hope, and belief in God are embedded into every tune. It’ll only take one listen to hear that the sentiments these songs convey spring from somewhere deep within McClain's being. The ideas he writes about are part and parcel of who Sam McClain is, where he’s been, and where he’s going. Yet he never conveys them in a manner that comes across as preachy.

On One More Bridge to Cross, McClain receives support from guitarist Chris Tofield, bassist Dave Smith, drummer Jim Arnold, keyboardist Barry Seelen, background vocalist Conchetta Prio, and the "Mighty Horns," made up of Pat Herlehy's saxophone, Mark Paquin's trombone and sax, and Trent Austin's trumpet. Gerry Putnam did all the recording, mixing, and mastering at Cedarhouse Sound and Mastering in Sutton, NH -- and, as previously noted, McClain produced this album himself.

The sound of One More Bridge to Cross, while not quite scaling the heights reached by his previous AudioQuest and Telarc efforts, is nonetheless of very high caliber. It’s obvious that McClain learned well the ins and outs of the audiophile-recording credo during his earlier sessions. McClain’s voice is full, deep, and rich. He comes across as a real person singing, not just a disembodied voice.

The instruments are, given the limits of Red Book CD, clearly rendered, both tonally and spatially. The soundstage is pretty much speaker to speaker, but there is sufficient depth to keep things believable. Remember, One More Bridge to Cross isn’t, nor was it intended to be, a demo disc. It’s a musically expressive album that you’ll want to listen to again and again.

You can check this album out further at: But I doubt you’ll need to do much research -- just the knowledge that there is a new Mighty Sam McClain album available should be enough to spur you to find, buy, and listen to it.

And you know what? You’ll not be disappointed. One More Bridge to Cross continues Mighty Sam McClain’s tradition of wonderful albums. He may now be out on his own, but as this album demonstrates, he still remembers where he’s been.