Prime Cuts: This is the Year, Dinning with the King, I Love You More
Listening to the Isaacs' new album "Nature's Symphony in 432" is like taking a virtual tour back to the Garden of Eden. As the titular indicates, the album was recorded in 432 tuning, the frequency which most closely reflects the sounds found in nature. Moreover, the added sounds of nature via the augments of the chirping of birds, the rustling sounds of leaves, and the organic backings of wooden instruments, give a 3D rustic dimension to these 15 newly recorded songs. Thus, listening to the album has a soothing and therapeutic effect; situating us in nature, and bringing us closer to our Creator. Also, what differentiates this record from the countless releases of Southern Gospel record is that (save for the hymn "Great is Thy Faithfulness") all of the songs are co-written by the various members of the quartet.
The Isaacs comprises of mom Lily Isaacs, daughters Sonya and Becky Isaacs, and son Ben Isaacs. Drawing from bluegrass, country, contemporary Christian and southern gospel influences, infused with their signature acoustic instrumentation, the Isaacs' unique sound and blended harmonies appeal to a wide range of audiences and has earned them notoriety in a variety of genres. They have been featured artists on the Gaither Homecomings, as well as appearing on stages such as the Grand Ole Opry, Dove Awards, IBMA (International Bluegrass Music Association) Awards, ICMA (Inspirational Country Music Association) Awards, CMA Music Week, Carnegie Hall and professional sporting events across the country.
The title cut "Nature's Symphony" is a gentle invitation to step into the worship of God together with all of God's creation. The way producer Terry Bradshaw subtly and seamlessly interweave the sounds of nature with the song's soul-stirring strings is a work of art. "Fields," which features country music stalwart Marty Stuart on guitar, is less mesmerizing, depreciated by the fluidity of the song's melodic line. Much better are the couple of songs Sonya Isaac co-wrote after delivering a still born in 2014. Written a week after Sonya's loss, "Keep Breathing" is raw, honest, soul rendering, and yet so hope drenched. Likewise, for those of us who have had experienced God's grace during a period of testings, the piano and strings laden "I Love You More" will resonate.
Suffering not only visited Sonya, it also established acquaintance with her sister Becky when she has had to battle with Crohn's disease. "God is Still with Me" and "Dinning with the King" are both testimonies of God's faithfulness over Becky's healing process. Most salient is "Dinning with the King." Rather than just dwelling on trite platitudes, Becky utilizes the Biblical story of Mephibosheth as the narrative arch. "If That's What It Takes," on the other hand, takes a page out of Ben Isaacs' diary when he was suffering from a strong addiction. Featuring the gentle strumming of just the acoustic guitar, Ben has never sounded more heartfelt and intimate.
But not all the songs wallow in mire of sufferings and pain. The upbeat and joyous lead single "This is the Year" is addictively catchy. And the jaunty "Rocks" retells the story of Jesus and the adulteress woman (as told in John 8) with great verve and creativity. "Nature's Symphony in 432," in short, is not your average Southern Gospel album. From the way the album was recorded, from the interesting choice of songs, from the testimonial nature of the songs, from the acumen the team had to link in God, nature and healing, this album indeed is exceptional.