Prime Cuts: It's Under the Blood, God's Already There, What All the Shouting's About
You can always count on the Inspirations. Since 1964, the Inspirations have had carved out their classic sound; their patented seamless layered harmonies is now synonymous with their name. In this regard their brand new Sonlite/Horizon album "Pray for Me" is no exception; nary have they deviated from their peerless singing template. But the Inspirations are not only audibly consistent, their songs have also been faithfully true to the tenets of their hardcore evangelical beliefs. Despite the change of times and trends, you won't find this sextet easing up on what is at the core of the Gospel just to remain current. "Pray for Me" is their much anticipated follow-up to 2014 "God's Word Will Stand." Just like the predecessor, "Pray For Me" is loosely a concept album with songs centering around the issue of prayer. In this regard, songs such as "Pray for Me," "Daniel Prayed" and "God's Already There" are great expositions of the album's theme.
The Inspirations first started in 1964 when Martin Cook, a teacher at Swain County High School, invited several young men to his home for evenings of singing. Later they began to call themselves the Inspirations traveling around the area and singing at various venues. Over the years, the Inspirations (also affectionately called the Fraternity) have released over 60 albums with over 60 charting hits such as "Shoutin' Time In Heaven", "When I Wake Up To Sleep No More", "A Rose Among The Thorns", and "We Need To Thank God." They have also won every award imaginable, including "Favorite Quartet of the Year" multiple times at the Singing News Fan Awards.
Hands down, the real gems of this new disc reside in the ballads. Sung with a sense of glowing assurance, the blood of Jesus has never been so moving portrayed as in Leonard Fletcher's well crafted "It's Under the Blood." Parents may do well to listen to "God's Already There:" it is a tender narrative piece where the protagonist remembers how his mother used to pray for him that he would always remember God's abiding presence. Prepare for some spine tingling moments with the Inspirations' a cappella version of the traditional "Sweet Beulah Land." More hymn-like and dated in the sound is the Inspiration's dirge-like take of Rebecca J. Peck's "Jesus Picked a Rose."
When the tempo accelerates, you will find your toes tapping to the delightful "What All the Shoutings About." This is a track that will inspire you to press the "repeat" button as its tune is just irresistibly catchy. In this culture where fewer and fewer songs are written about Christ's second coming, the Inspirations are to be applauded for tackling the Revelation-inspired "Surely I Come Quickly." Also with words directly inspired from Scripture is Ralph Stanley's classic "Daniel Prayed." Featuring a jazzy flowing piano and the boys' full bodied harmonies is "Onward to the Goal."
If you appreciate songs that are Biblically solid sung with the traditional "quartet" sound, this album won't disappoint. In fact, the ballads are so good that this album is worth much more than the price you pay for a download.