REVIEW OF THE PERRY’S “THROUGH THE NIGHT” ALBUM
Songs are more than just words tagged onto a string of performed notes. Rather, they are often used to twinge our dull ears to hear the warm familiar footsteps of our loving heavenly Father in the hall ways of pitch darkness walking towards us to comfort us. During our times of trials when all around us is darkness, how many of us have often been comforted by a song that reminds us that God is near? Songs, especially those that encased rich Scriptural truths, are often used by God to bring that sliver of light in our darkness. And this is true for Southern Gospel group the Perrys too. Forty two years ago after the death of Libbi Perry's oldest brother Johnny, while the family was still in the throes of grief, it was music that brought them through when they decided to sing to the Lord around the piano after the funeral. Ever since they were ministered by the Lord through songs, the group Perry was formed. Over the years, though members have come and gone, the group held onto together through thick and thin through songs. And their songs such as "If You Knew Him," "By Faith I Can Touch Him Now," "Not Even a Stone," "He Will Hide Me" and "God Walks the Dark Hills," testified to the reason to their tenacity and that is Jesus Christ. "Through the Night," the group's latest album of 10 newly recorded songs packs an angular theme running through: God's footsteps are near and recognizable in our hall ways of darkness. And this album is somehow prophetic: for months after it was released bass singer Tracy Stuffle a stroke that shook the Perrys and the whole music community up. But it is in times like these, the Lord himself ministers his grace to us through these songs again and again.
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Relative to their previous album "Blue Skies," "Through the Night" forbears a celebratory tenor. Rather, it is more perspicuous in its depiction of trials and sufferings. With a cello introduction that calls to mind Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On," "Through the Night" is an inimitably written ballad that finds Libbi Perry Stuffle grasping onto Jesus in her hardest times when she sings, "Still I will praise you through the night while this trial perseveres." Trials take on narrative contexts with "Whosoever Will" which tell of how a lonely runaway girl and a lonely man each answered to the call of Christ and found healing, life and peace with the Savior. Joseph Habedank who handles the lead vocals here is to be congratulated for his gorgeous and thoughtful delivery. Another ballad that is easily the best cut on the disc is "When He Spoke" (a re-recording of a track they had cut years ago). Suffering here is framed within the Biblical story of Mary at the tomb of Jesus-heartbroken and disappointed-and how such her forlornness was transformed when she meant her Risen Master. Starting off slowly before its cinematic crescendo, this song this is worship at its best.
Yet, not all is slow and dreary. As much as the night can linger, the Bible tells us that joy does comes with the morning. Calling to mind the evergreen southern favorite "I'll Fly Away," the country sounding "One of These Mornings" tells of the joy in heaven where all suffering will disappear. Another "morning" song is the lead single "I Got a Hold of God This Morning." This song is more rendered in the traditional four-part harmony with some zesty harmonica riffs. Unfortunately, it's far too predictable and far too traditional sounding. Much better is the stomping "He is Good to Me" which features some blistering guitar licks and it is a long time since we have had such a fun jubilant track around. Though a ballad but the love of Jesus has never been more solidly glorified than "Too Good Not to be True." Told from the viewpoint of the Samaritan woman in John 4 coming to fetch water from the well, this story details how her life was changed when she realized how good Jesus can be.
The underlying message of "Through The Night" is dovetailed in these two Biblically informed insights: as believers nights of suffering may tarry but God will ultimately come through for us. The 10 songs here are so beautifully woven that together they do bring out this messages through Biblical stories, words of encouragements and prayers fashioned with melodies. "Through the Night" is more than a collection of songs; they are powerful reminders that the familiar footsteps of our Risen Savior are near us in our darkest alleys.
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