The Jim Brady Trio is one of the hottest new acts in southern gospel, and with good reason: Jim comes off a staggering twelve-year run with the Booth Brothers besides being a prolific songwriter for other groups, his wife Melissa is also a prolific writer and vocal coach, and Tim Parton is well-known for his tenure as Legacy Five’s pianist/producer. With so much experience and talent in one place, good things are bound to happen. The release of their debut album is especially poignant in the wake of Lari Goss’s death, since this was one of the last projects he worked on. Today marks its official drop date, and you can head over to iTunes for your own copy. But first, have a gander at what I thought of it.
* Opener “God of What’s To Come” evokes other Brady songs like the Booth Brothers’ “I See Grace,” with focused lyrics and sweeping Goss orchestration. It’s a comforting message of confidence for any Christian who’s embarking on a new or uncertain chapter of life.
* In a similar lyrical vein, “Stepping Out in Faith” is the stand-out new barn burner. Think Hoppers. A perfect choice for the first radio single.
* Folks are talking about the classic Lari arrangement of “The Love of God,” which is indeed a standout, but standard cover “If It Had Not Been” is actually my favorite cut on the album. It recalls an old-school Selah number with its sparing piano/organ production and tight mixed harmonies. My only complaint is that while Melissa’s voice is very well-trained, it isn’t quite as gritty/soulful as I would typically like on this sort of number.
*A bit of Squire Parsons is always welcome, and they picked a great classic in “The Greatest of All Miracles.” You have to be stirred by lyrics like these, especially if you can call up such souls by name in your memory:
Now I have seen
The lowest sin sick soul
Have life anew
Be made pure,
Pure and whole…
* Booth Brothers fans who heard them debut a new song “On My Way Home” in concert
may be disappointed not to find it on any new Booth Brothers projects, but they [Edit: Obviously I needed to double-check my copy of Isaiah 12:2, since the Booths actually did put this on there!] will enjoy its inclusion on this album. Listening to this song caused my mother to remark that she appreciates Jim’s filler-free style of songwriting. He’s always striving to say something meaningful in each verse. Best line: “Over the horizon, there’s no setting sun.” Note: Now that I’ve been duly corrected on the fact that this was also on a Booth Brothers table project, I’m not sure whether its inclusion on this project was necessary, but it’s a good song either way.
*Speaking of the Booth Brothers, I’d completely forgotten about their deep album cut “The Half That’s Never Been Told” and thoroughly enjoyed the like-new cover on this album. I expect a lot of other people will also really get into it for the first time. It allows Tim Parton to cut loose a bit on the keys, and it’s an encore-milking machine in waiting.
* “Good Lord Willing (And the Church Don’t Rise)” is a clever, snappy hook.
* “When He Saved Me” is another Booth Brothers deep cut cover, but I’m not sure it needed to be revived. The melody is limp, and while I like the hook, the rest of the lyrics struggle to leave much of an impression. Also, the word “evaluating” should be added to my ever growing list of “Clunky, Prosey Words You Shouldn’t Put in a Serious Ballad-y Song Unless You’re Trying to Evoke the Nails on Chalkboard Effect.”
* “Ordinary Love” is pretty but a little saccharine and clunky. Phillips, Craig & Dean’s “Midnight Oil” is better written along similar lines. (But then in fairness, I often find myself saying that X song by Phillips, Craig & Dean is better than Y song on the same theme.) In particular, the line “No one needs a superstar, no one needs a saint” strikes me as an odd turn of phrase. Theologically speaking, aren’t all believers saints, or if you prefer, being refined into sainthood? In fact, is that not the point of the entire song—that this young couple is daily growing in grace through their simple, faithfully lived out love for each other? Maybe it’s just my Anglo-Catholic background, but that’s always been my considered gloss on the word “saint.”
* If they were going to revive deep album cuts from the Booth Brothers, I wish they’d pulled out the haunting “Just Beyond the River Jordan,” especially since Melissa wrote it. The fact that they didn’t pull out that one but found room for “When He Saved Me” is a bit disappointing. Oh well, there’s always the next album!
*I wanted to hear more Tim Parton piano!
Final thoughts: Although there aren’t any “wow” moments on this album, it’s a classy, well blended collection of standards and new material that will leave fans eager for more. I’m always searching for that elusive Great with a capital “G” new song, but even though this is a laid-back debut effort, there’s huge potential for greatness in what this trio brings to the table. It’s a solid 4 out of 5 stars for me.
Review copy provided. A positive review was not required.