Prime Cuts: Take Me In, Every Silver Lining, Be Still and Know
At its grassroots, Southern Gospel music is country music with a Christian lyrical content. So, how country does Southern Gospel music needs to get? On one hand, you have groups like Legacy Five and Ernie Haase & Signature Sound who are not reticent to incorporate a zest of jazz to their sound giving their records a more sophisticated Broadway swing. Then, you have others like the Beelers who take us back to the more rustic sounds where instruments such as the banjo, harmonica, and steel guitars give their songs an angular and yet traditional edge. Therefore, if you want your Southern Gospel with a large dose of Southern soul, "You're Loved" will abound with great delights and pleasures.
The Beelers are a family trio based in Union County, Tennessee. Members include siblings Cory, Robin, & Tina. "You're Loved" is the trio's third album to be released. Previously, they have had released two records on their own: "Common Ground" and "Follow the Road." "You're Loved" is the Beelers' debut Skyland Records, a subsidiary of Crossroads Records. With the support of a major label, the quality of the album shines in terms of the A-list of songwriters including Lee Black, Kenna West, Rebecca J. Peck, Jason Cox, and many others. And with producer Roger Talley on the helm, the sound is impeccable, crisp, and spot-on.
Most interesting in this canon of songs is the Beelers' take of the Alan O'Bryant's "Those Memories of You," a track that the Trio (Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris) took to #5 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart in 1987. Transforming this nostalgic ode to an old love into a call to remember to sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross, "Those Memories of You (Ringing of the Hammer)" does get quite a makeover that can be jarring in the first few listens. Moreover, while the Trio's version has a breezy plaintive flair to it, the Beelers' take is pudgy with Cory pushing too intensely in the vocal department. Nevertheless, they score much better with the toe-tapping country leaning original "I'm Free Again" and the harmonica-driven bluesy "Lord of the Raging Sea."
It's actually in the ballads that the trio excel. Despite the cheesy keyboard sounds at the intro, Jason Cox and Marty Funderburk's "Take Me to Him" is a compendium to those of us struggling with fear and doubt. Featuring a crescendo-building melody that fed-exes us to Christ, "Take Me to Him" has "perfect" stamped all across it. "Every Silver Lining" strings together stories that illustrate one Biblical truth: sometimes God uses suffering to illustrate His grace and mercy. "Be Still and Know" finds the siblings indulging in a big ballad. Cory's command of the song's pace, nuances, and the emotional build-up is what gives "Be Still and Know" an ovation worthy performance.
Thus, for those needing a nudge of reminder that they are dearly loved by our Savior, the ballads here will do the work perfectly.