Prime Cuts: Faith Hope Love, How You Love Me, Psalm 56
Jon Micah Sumrall's "Faith and Family" finds its zip code in Smallsville USA. By letting his aggressive electric guitars enjoy a well-deserved recess, the front man of Christian rock band Kutless has taken the back road home to one of his more introspective and mellow collections. Unlike the Kutless outputs, "Faith and Family," as the titular advocates, is a personal collection of songs Sumrall has amassed over the years. Some of which were birthed right out of his own personal reflections of Scripture while others were written specifically for his wife and his family. Sonically, there's a roostier sound to the whole 10 cuts. Yet, "Faith and Family" is not a snooze affair either; rather akin to the works of Tim McGraw or Robert Earl Keen, many of these songs narrate scintillating autobiographical anecdotes about Sumrall's struggles and triumphs in life. With lots of attention paid to details, such perspicuity often untangles emotions within us giving us a hike along the same dusty side roads Sumrall has traversed.
The album's titular "Faith and Family" dictates the template of the songs. Some of the songs do deal with God and this includes album opener "Faith Hope Love." The opening words of this piano-based power ballad has already got us hooked to the song picturesquely. Set on a rainy and a gelid morning where gloom and uncertainty adorn the skyline, "Faith Hope Love" is essentially a prayer request to God centering around three petitions for faith, hope and love. Devoid of any hint of hucksterism, "How You Love Me" continues that intimacy as Sumrall is backed by the gentle strumming of an acoustic guitar as he revels in the sweetness of God's love. You really can't get more effective than to set the word of God to music as in "Psalm 56."
"King and Savior" continues on the theme of worship. Though lyrically, "King and Savior" mines no new ground, it's still good to hear Sumrall at his heartfelt best. When Sumrall moves to expound the second half of his album's titular, he does an equally stupendous job with "What I'm Trying to Say." A song that calls to mind some of the propulsive country love songs of the 90s, there's a sweet romantic coy and an incessant ear-worming melody that are often missing in today's love songs. Written 17 years ago, "The One I Love" was Sumrall's wedding gift to his brand new bride then. A little disjointed and forced as far as the lyrics go, but you can definitely see talent burgeoning there.
If you are looking for something a little mellower with songs that function more like close friends chatting around you rather than a big stadium preacher speaking at you, "Faith and Family" is a great circle of friends. Friends that will not only draw you closer to the Savior but they will also draw you closer to the ones that matter.