Itís In The Saviorís Hands
Mountan Home, 2012
REVIEW BY: Curtis Jones
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 07/22/2012
The Inspirations have been putting out a steady stream of Southern gospel music since the mid-sixties. And like many southern gospel groups that have had such longevity, their membership has been a revolving door of singers held down by one or two core members. In the case of the Inspirations, they are anchored by Martin Cook, the piano player who was teaching high school in North Carolina and formed the group out of some talented students. They have produced literally dozens of albums, some good, some not good at all. 2012's It’s In The Savior’s Hands is one of their best.
One of the endearing things about the Inspirations’ approach to Southern gospel is their simplicity. Or perhaps a better word would be understated, because their quartet harmony and vocal ranges are not simple at all. But in a genre that is often overburdened by over-production, the Inspirations let the vocal arrangements and lyrics do the work for the song. Rather than dazzle you with blaring brass and string sections and constant modulation to up the ante in every song, the group is grounded in Cook's piano and some rhythm guitar, with an occasional fill on a mandolin or pedal steel guitar.
It’s In The Savior’s Hands does cheat to become a great album in one sense. The group redoes several previously recorded songs and draws on some classic Southern gospel tunes. But this does not take away from the quality. In fact, some of the redone tracks, such as "Look What I'm Trading For a Mansion" are far better than their previous versions. There are a couple of songs clearly designed to show off the range of bass singer Mike Holcomb, who has one of the deepest bass voices of anyone working in the genre. He goes low in "In The Twinkle Of An Eye," but another resurrected tune "It Won't Be Long" has him hitting a note so low in the cellar that it sounds as if he is eating the microphone and growling at the same time.
There is plenty of variety on It’s In The Savior’s Hands. Out of the gate "I'll Never Sail Alone" is a foot tapper, as are "Lord, Stir The Wind" and "It's Shouting Time In Heaven." But they can slow down with ease. "He Looked Beyond My Fault" is a beautiful song which the queen of Southern gospel songwriting Dottie Rambo set to the tune of Londonderry Aire (the more popular lyrics set to this old tune are those of “Danny Boy”). "He'll Hold To My Hand" is another classic that is performed beautifully and they really slow it down with "So Simple, So Profound," which is as sweet as a child's lullaby.
It has been a while since the Inspirations put out a consistently good album. But with It’s In The Savior’s Hands, they prove that they are not sitting back and letting the business pass them by.