CD Review: No Two Ways About It (Inspirations)
Since their last CD release, the Inspirations have gone through a time of vocal transition. They had to find new lead and tenor singers, and found two keepers. Lead singer Stephen Srein, who sang with baritone Jon Epley in a regional group several years ago, brings straight-ahead vocals in the classic Inspirations style. And if there had to be a tenor vacancy, they could not have done better than to bring Mark Clark back. It’s not Clark’s first time aboard the Inspirations bus; he filled in with and for Archie Watkins toward the end of his forty-five-year-run with the group.
The Jodi Hosterman era brought a distinctly different feel to the Inspirations’ sound. It won them new fans, but many fans missed the Mountain Gospel stylings that put the Inspirations on the Southern Gospel map. With No Two Ways About It, that classic Mountain Gospel sound is back.
It sure helps to have the right ten songs. Mark Clark is stellar on his cover of the Inspirations classic “On Heaven’s Bright Shore.” “I’ve Got That Old Time Religion” is one of the strongest convention songs that the group has recorded in the last decade or so. (It’s not the rather overdone song by the same name; it’s also a cover and also a convention song, but a different song.) There are also songs like “No Two Ways About It” and “You Can Still Find Forgiveness” that would have felt at home on the last few Inspirations releases, so fans who recently came aboard will still find much to like.
No Two Ways About It is the strongest Inspirations album since their 2006 release I Know. If you loved the Inspirations during their peak years, it’s time to give them another chance.
Group Members: Mark Clark (tenor), Stephen Srein (lead), Jon Epley (baritone), Mike Holcomb (bass), Martin Cook (piano), Myron Cook (bass), Luke Vaught (utility musician).
Credits: Produced by Jeff Collins, Martin Cook, and Scott Barnett. Engineered, Mixed, and Mastered by Scott Barnett and Van Atkins. Musicians: Jeff Collins (piano), Tim Surrett (upright bass), David Johnson (acoustic guitar, mandolin, fiddle, resonator guitar, harmonica, steel guitar). Review copy provided.
Song List (songwriters in parentheses): Saved, Sealed, and Going (Rodney Griffin); You Can Still Find Forgiveness (Jim Brady); I’ll Be A Friend To Jesus (Johnson Oatman Jr.); He Made A Change (Jim Brady); I’ll Never Get Over (Jeremy Simpson); Just A Little Talk With Jesus (Cleavant Derricks); Jesus Is Coming Soon (R.E. Winsett); No Two Ways (Kevin Jones); On Heaven’s Bright Shore (Roscoe Reed); I’ve Got That Old Time Religion (Terry Pillow).
Five-star songs: On Heaven’s Bright Shore; The Old-Time Religion.