Prime Cuts: Who I Could Have Been, It Carried Him, Sing in the Valley
Overall Score: 4.5/5
When the Apostle Paul encouraged the Ephesian elders to preach the whole counsel of God's Word, the Perrys have also taken this exhortation to heart. "Testament" is easily the most lyrically diverse album the Perrys have had undertaken. Leaving no Biblical stone unturned, here you find a plethora of topics being sung about from the rapture ("Moses and Elijah") to worship ("Let's Take a Moment") to service ("Lord Send Me") to sanctification ("Who I Could Have Been") to joy in the midst of suffering ("Sing in the Valley"). But it's not just the lyrics, musically the songs also run the whole gamut from the sounds of 90s country to hard-edged Americana to the traditional harmony-stacked Southern Gospel sounds to the more rustic bluegrass undertow. In short, there's soporific moment on "Testament." Each song bears its own individuality with its own distinct theological contribution to the entire set.
As with most StowTown Records releases, "Testament" bears the stellar imprints of producer Wayne Haun. Haun has the ear to take a song and dress it in the fashion of majesty. The album opens with the reflective (and so worshipful) "Let's Take a Moment." Haun's sensitive use of strings in bringing the song to its august crescendo is itself a work of art that deserves multiple ovations. Again Haun showcases his mettle, this time as a songwriter, on "It Carried Him" (co-written with Kirk Talley). The song tells the story of a man who had a "trusted companion" that he carries everywhere he goes. Yet, we are never told who or what this trusted companion is until the bridge of the song; and if you really want to find out, you have to purchase the song!
The fast paced pseudo-blueegrassy "Moses and Elijah" is not only this album's lead single, but it's one of the few songs that speak of the rapture. A rare treat indeed. Jared Stuffle then takes the lead on the 90s country sounding "Who I Could Have Been." Easily one of the album's melodically strongest cut, the song speaks of how Christ not only saves us from eternal condemnation but also the heartaches that sin causes along life's journey. Tracy Stuffle indulges us in the melodious "Lord, Send Me" before Troy Peach testifies about God's faithfulness in the waltzy "Sing in the Valley."
Despite being a sublime effort, the album is let down towards the end with two covers: "My Hope Is in the Blood" (Primitive Quartet) and the convention classic, "The Harder the Battle, the Sweeter the Victory." There's nothing explicitly wrong with them; but in the light of the lyrical excellence of some the aforementioned tracks, these two covers sound cliché and pedantic. They further aged the record as they exude an outdated vibe. Other than such a misstep, "Testament" is a top notched set. Diverse in its lyrical and melodic coverage. And thoughtful and heartfelt in its execution. You can't improve on that.