Prime Cuts: When Jesus Turns My Prison into My Shouting Ground, Teaching Me to Fly, Jesus They've Offended Your Name
Overall Grade: 4.5/5
Sometimes less is more. You don't have to command a whole orchestra to impress. Rather, using a simple three-piece band of piano, acoustic stand-up bass, and acoustic guitar with other instruments sparingly utilized to augment than to overwhelm, there is a simplicity to their mountain Gospel sound that is refreshing. "The One in the Water," produced by Jeff Collins, marks the return of instantly recognizable vocalists Archie Watkins, Eddie Deitz and Marlon Shubert. They join Matt Dibler and Roland Kesterson along with band members Luke Vaught and Casey Johnson to offer a selection of songs that represent the finest in traditional Christian music.
After all these years of leaving their mountain gospel imprint on Southern Gospel music, "The One in the Water" still demonstrates two reasons why they are a mainstay in the genre. First, the Inspirations have a way of binging a 3-D realism to the stories they tell. They do not merely sing the stories of the Bible. Rather, they bring us smack dab into the middle of the narratives. Most transparent in this regard is the title cut "The One in the Water." Featuring a simple piano and country-sounding backing, the song brings us right into the baptism account of Jesus. There's such a vividness to it that you can almost feel the splash of the waters of River Jordan.
Then you have the toe-tapping and insanely catchy "When Jesus Turns My Prison into My Shouting Ground." This time the team brings us right into the prison where Paul and Silas were locked up and there together we witnessed the deliverance again with our own ears. Archie Watkins takes the lead to sing "Teaching Me to Fly;" this is perhaps one of the best illustrations of what it means to trust God via the story of how a mother bird teaches her young to fly. Then they go for the quasi-acapella Doo-Wop style with Marlin Shubert on bass on the average "I Shall Not Be Moved."
Second, though the Inspirations have been known for their traditional sounds, they are by no means stuck up in the past. Rather, they do address contemporary issues. Hitting the nail right on the head in relation to all the political correctness these days is the tuneful "Jesus They've Offended Your Name." Then they offer an upbeat tribute to all Christian workers (e.g., Sunday school teachers, deacons, preachers and so forth) on "Thank God for Preachers." With all the political turmoil going on in the White House, they offer they spill on what it still means to be a Christian in the US on the ultra-cheesy "We Are Christians."
Though there are some minor potholes of disappointments, this is an excellent record. With "The One in the Water," the Inspirations have once again extended their influential sound once again with this new record.