In just five short years, the Jim Brady Trio has gone from new kid on the block to one of the top trios in the business. Many would say it has to do with Jim’s extensive tenure with the Booth Brothers, but I think it has more to do with the fact that Jim and Melissa Brady have a knack for creating a musical atmosphere that reaches across generations and musical tastes. In one minute, they find themselves on Gerald Wolfe’s wholly-traditional Gospel Music Hymn Sing, and the next reaching Millennials in trendy churches across the nation.
Hope Keeps Writing the Song, the third mainline release for this exciting trio, continues in that same vein, walking the line between traditional and progressive that very groups have managed to successfully do over the years. The album kicks off with the tight harmony-laden “Living In the Rhythm of Grace,” a song that the Gaither Vocal Band recorded last year. JBT’s version features Melissa’s beautiful soprano on the lead, which lifts the song more compared to the falsetto led GVB version.
There’s an evident lyrical theme that runs through Hope Keeps Writing the Song: hope and joy seen on the other side of trials and tribulations. No more is that more evident that the title cut which was penned by Jim and Melissa. “The Season When God Breaks Through” is one of the more progressive tracks and one that is bound to find a home in live settings with its catchy chorus and memorable lyrics (penned by Bill & Gloria Gaither and Dony and Reba McGuire).
“Lost,” the first single and easy standout track, is sure to be a career-defining tune for the group. Penned by Rodney Griffin and Tony Wood, this progressive track showcases the unique differences and connection between being lost without God’s grace and then being lost in His presence. “You Gotta Have a Song” is reminiscent of early Gaither Vocal Band stylings, and Gaither’s unique touch is prevalent throughout the recording. (Gaither is credited as an executive producer alongside Jim Brady).
Melissa gets a chance to stand out on the two tracks which are arguably the best songs on the disc. “Follow Me to the Cross,” a traditional ballad penned by Melissa, features Trey Ivey’s impeccable orchestration and production work. Melissa delivers one of her finest vocal performances to date on this song, and it should be an obvious choice for the next single. Following right along is their cover of Bryan Popin’s “I Got Out,” which couldn’t be more stylistically different than the preceding song. This Black Gospel-infused song features strong vocals from all three singers, but Melissa really gets a chance to breakout of her shell on the back half.
Layke gets his chance to shine on the modern worship cover of Hillsong Worship’s “What a Beautiful Name.” The arrangement makes it an easy pill to swallow for traditional fans, and younger audiences will love the familiarity of the tune.
Hope Keeps Writing the Song continues the trend of the Jim Brady Trio being ahead of the curve from a musical and branding stand-point. There’s not a bad song in the bunch, and the group’s decision to utilize other writers and producers really helps to balance out their sound. This is one of the few must-owns of the year.
Livin’ In the Rhythm of Grace
Hope Keeps Writin’ the Song
The Season When God Breaks Through
You Gotta Have a Song
Follow Me to the Cross
I Got Out
I See a Crimson Stream
The Little Things
What a Beautiful Name
I Know Him Better Now
When It Rains