Easter is an indispensable word in Southern Gospel music. Without Easter, there will be no tune to hum; and if Christ is still shuffled off the mortal coil, then there would be no reason to raise the pen to write another Gospel song. Just as necessitous as Easter is, the same gravitas is shared by the Easter Brothers. Comprising of Russell Easter, James Easter and Ed Easter, these siblings have shaped and influenced Christian music in magnanimous ways for the last 60 odd years. Started first by Russell Easter in 1943 before the group conglomerated together in 1953, they first dabbled in bluegrass music before incorporating more and more of Gospel music into their patented style. While many groups have come and gone, the Easter Brothers have withstood the test of time and they have released over 50 albums. As busy Gospel tunesmiths, they have crafted over 400 songs, many of them such as "Thank You Lord for Your Blessings on Me," "The Darkest Hour," "They're Holding Up the Ladder," "He's the Rock I'm Leaning On," and "Help Me Stand Lord" that have become classics often recycled by numerous artists of the genre.
"I'd Do It All Over Again" is the first Easter Brothers in over a decade. And it's also their debut for Pisgah Ridge/Crossroads Records. Produced by Jared Easter, Steve Schramm and Gerald Crabb, "I'd Do It All Over Again" finds the Easter Brothers penning 6 out the 10 cuts here. Staged in their bluegrass classic sound is the briskly paced "Let the Hallelujahs Roll." Though the siblings still sound excellent when they harmonized together, you can hear how age has trimmed some of their higher notes when they get to sing individually. This is most apparent on the soft, thoughtful ballad "The Crossing." However, the song is redeemed by the evocative support of fiddle and mandolin that help bring out the song's theme about how the Lord will not let us down when we make "the crossing" to heaven after death. Waxing nostalgia is "The Good Old Days;" this song triumphs on its soothing and relaxing melody that come from the pens of Russell, Russell Jr., James and Ed.
Anchoring on the tradition of great story telling that the Easter Brothers have built their reputation on is the newly penned "The Lost Sheep." With pertinent echoes of the words of Jesus taken from Luke 15, "The Lost Sheep" finds the brothers sing and narrate through this beautiful ode of redemption. In terms of gems, "Old Fashion Talk With Jesus" easily check marks every qualification that makes this a future classic to be. You will find your feet swirling and your heart leaning closer to the Lord on this waltz that expounds on the value of prayer with a tinge of sepia tone nostalgia. Gerald Crabb, a close friend and co-producer of the brothers, wrote the title track "I'd Do It All Over Again." A retrospective kind of a song that is particularly meaningful for a group of such longevity, the chorus gives expression to the group's ethos: "I won't regret one time I stood for my Lord. My labor has not been in vain/Just to hear him say well done/When life's race is run/I'd do it all over again."
While many older acts these days don't put much of an investment on the CD cover, the Easter Brothers are an exception. "I'd Do It All Over Again" with its different shades and contrasting colors is one of the smartest looking album covers in a long while. Despite their ages, the CD cover makes them look energetic, fresh and contemporary. Though the brothers may warn us in the song "You Can't Judge a Book By Its Cover," when it comes to this album you can bypass that adage. This album is as good as it looks.