Prime Cuts: Directions Home, Only Love, Friend of the Wounded Heart
Drive time will be so much more enjoyable and rewarding with Point of Grace's "Directions Home." Not only do they navigate well in GPSing us home (whether it's literal or/and spiritual), they have encompass great scenic routes where we get to hear the trio sing some of the old verdant songs from the past all the way to today's biggest hits. "Directions Home" is Point of Grace's tenth studio album and it's also their first covers album, save for two new cuts. Unlike many covers albums, Point of Grace have chosen to eschew some of the tried and true highways in favour of the scenic byways. Thus, you will find them tackling lesser known country songs such as Wynonna Judd's "Only Love," Trace Adkins' "You're Gonna Miss This" to more overt and recent choices such as Carrie Underwood's "Something in the Water," Miley Cyrus' "The Climb" and Nashville Cast's "A Life That's Good." And venturing into their Christian roots, they have also offered their reading of Matt Maher's "Lord I Need You" and Wayne Watson's "Friend of a Wounded Heart."
In the 1990s, Point of Grace is Christian music tour de force all-female voices. They seemed infallible: with every release, they had never missed Billboard Christian Song's #1 position. Between 1995 and 2001, they released 16 singles and each single one lodged in at the Everest position! They could literally do no wrong. But with the turn of the Millennium, things started to slow down for the ladies. And sonically the group started evolving too. No longer bouncing with the tight pop blast, they began transitioning to adopt a more organic sound. One began to discern that move more and more starting with 2007's "How You Live." On that year, they even curried favour with country favour as the title cut "How You Live" became a country hit.
With "Directions Home" their sonic evolution is complete. Relative to many country outputs out there, "Directions Home" is decidedly more country with the prominence of fiddles, steel and rustic sounding acoustic guitar lines. Country superstar Vince Gill gives the title cut "Directions Home" (a brand new song) a soaring homey feel as the ladies sing nostalgically about old fashion values and the importance of family on this gorgeous sounding ballad. The album's other new entry also finds another country veteran on the microphone. Ricky Skaggs joins Point of Grace on this firey "Two Roads;" a track that calls to mind the words of Jesus about the broad road leading to hell and the straight and narrow leading to eternal life.
As for the covers, one wonders why Point of Grace would care to record Carrie Underwood's "Something in the Water" and then to release it as the album's lead single. Underwood's original is currently still in heavy rotation on both the country and the Christian charts, would radio still have room to play Point of Grace's version? Much better as a single choice is their take of Wayne Watson's "Friend of a Wounded Heart." A #1 by Watson Watson in 1989, "Friend" would be a much better choice as most listeners would not have remembered this hymn-like ode about Jesus as our best friend. "Only Love," though the girls could not alienate themselves from Wynonna's alto growl, is another superb song that trumps on its stellar melodic line.
At the end of the day, if you are looking for some melodious rich songs sung by those tight-fitting harmonies from the ladies, "Directions Home" will make your drive eventful and memorable.