Country through Christian eyes: Father-son duo releases first CD

PUNXSUTAWNEY — The process of recording music can, at times, become tedious, especially when the producer wants a performer to sing or play a certain part — a vocal or a drum part, for example — over and over again in order to catch the right take.

That wasn't the case for the duo known as Randy Paul — Randy Thompson and his father, Paul Thompson, a popular vocalist in this area who is also the pastor of the Cloe, Covode and Steffy United Methodist Churches.
“When we went in, we laid down eight tracks of the same song, then we picked the best one,” Paul said this week, on the heels of releasing the CD he and Randy completed in late 2011, “Touched.”

“We loved doing it, so it never got tedious,” Paul said.

The new CD — produced by Jeremy Casella and featuring performances by the likes of Jon Conley, of Kenny Chesney's band, and others — was recorded over two different sessions in Nashville, Tenn., in 2011.

By the time the Thompsons entered the studio, all the music was done, except for the vocals and some extra guitar work.

Randy wrote 10 of the 13 songs by himself, while he wrote one with Casella and another with Adam Thompson. The song “Jesus I My Cross Have Taken” is a traditional hymn.

Paul said characters in each song — such as “Little Miss Perfect,” “Heart of Gold” and “When We're Apart (Daniel and Adam's Song)” — are real people, “all about people and life situations.”

Randy said that yes, while most of the songs have a Christian theme, he rejects labels such as inspirational country or others, because he and his father don't want to be locked into a particular genre that could alienate people unfamiliar with it.

“Well, I call it country through the eyes of a Christian. But everything is stuff that was on my heart,” said Randy, who wrote the lyrics. “About going through a divorce, and my boys ... being with family and Christian values.”

Those who have heard Paul Thompson in the area — including when he took the top prize in The Spirit's inaugural “Punxsy's Got Talent” event during Appreciation Day in 2010 — may have heard some of the tracks, notably the title song.

But from here, the Thompsons want to get their music to whomever will listen.

“We want to see if we can get people to listen to it; they respond quite well,” Paul said, adding that some radio stations in Nashville and elsewhere have expressed plans to air it — quite a feat for an act that is unsigned to a record label, in an age when radio playlists are stringently dictated by big-business corporate station owners.

“Our goal is to get it out and sing it at as many places as possible,” Randy said. “It's better to interact and see people alive.”

After performing live in the local area for years and a few homemade recording sessions, Paul said recording in a professional space was an unbelievable experience — one that was made comfortable without pressure by Casella.

He said the awe of the experience hit him when he heard the CD itself.
“It was amazing to hold it in your hands and listen to it,” Paul said.
A CD-release party for “Touched” will be held May 18 in Harrisburg — where Randy lives — and June 2 in Punxsy.