Prime Cuts: Small Town Someone (Lunch), Jesus Loves You, Hallelujah Coming from the Valley
You can never appreciate a small town in a hurry. Jeff and Sheri Easter know this first hand. Instead of giving us a rehearsed blink, through these 11 newly recorded cuts, the Easters take the time to moor through the byways of life's small town touring us through the scenic sights of God's grace. Taking the care to narrate with heartfelt acuity, they tell stories of three-dimensional characters who, like you and me, have gone through the valleys and peaks of life. But they are do not leave us there; as faithful heralds of the Gospel, the Easters also show us how these narratives traffic with God's grace in ways that are heartfelt and contagious. At the hand of the day, "Small Town" brims with a sense of realism that when you listen to this record, you feel like they are reading your diary and singing spot on about your joys, fears, doubts, and faith.
"Small Town" is a benchmark record for Jeff and Sheri Easter. Not only does it mark their 30th anniversary as a couple, but it also celebrates thirty years in ministry. To celebrate such a milestone, they have partnered with some of country music and Southern Gospel most cherished scribes such as Ben Hayslip, Jimmy Yeary, Don Poythress, Kenna Turner-West, Sue Smith, Jason Cox and others to co-craft these 11 songs. Despite the clumsy titular, "Small Town Someone (Lunch)" is a stellar example of artistic ingenuity. Taking the story of Jesus' story of the boy who fed the five thousand men via his loaves and fish, "Small Town Someone (Lunch)" re-tells this Biblical story with a contemporary nuance bearing a striking applicability to each of us who feel we have nothing to offer.
Easily a follow-up to "Small Town Someone (Lunch)" is "Someone's Listening." Recalling one of those 90s country ballads where layers of emotions were peeled first before the song gets to its denouncement, "Someone's Listening" slowly unravels the protagonist's doubts layer by layer first before the abiding presence of Jesus is so gloriously proclaimed. Also a throbber to the heart is the lead single and ballad "Jesus Loves You." Despite the banality of its title, this string-laden ballad is pregnant with so much truth that it would be a remiss to miss it. Equally powerful is "Hallelujah from the Valley;" a song about worshipping God even without any answers, this is more a faith statement wrapped in music.
Stylistically, the album has a balanced appeal to those who love their country music traditional and contemporary. In the latter category, you have the rustic "This Side of the Road" which is one of the few tracks here that features Jeff Easter on lead vocals. And those who love their Little Big Towns and Miranda Lamberts will adore the inspirational "My Wave," which comes from the pens of Ben Hayslip (Tim McGraw, Blake Shelton) and Jimmy Yeary (Lee Brice, Rascal Flatts). "Small Town," in short, does appeal to fans of a variegated taste. But "Small Town's" greatest appeal is that, regardless of style, these tracks have a way of engaging our stories with those of our Lord and Savior.