Prime Cuts: 26 Cents, Till They Come Home, Somebody's World Changed Today
Overall Grade: 4.5/5
There are songs you can listen to; and then there are songs that invite you into its narrative world where you can engage, interact, and identify with its protagonists. Endless Highway's brand new EP "Countless" presents passageways into six story songs, where the plots are intriguing and the characters are amicable and endearing. Save for two of them which are distinctively Christian, the songs on this record are about life's happenstances, dealing with issues about life, death and families. In accord with such themes, this disc has a distinctively 90s country music grit to it, giving these stories a befitting southern, rustic and homely ambiance. And harkening back to the heyday of 90s country, the songs are melodically easy on the ears rifle with lots of picturesque lyrics to boot.
Endless Highway is a Southern Gospel quartet comprising of Jason and Vanessa Griggs joined by their children Jay and Allison. Together as a team, their impeccable harmonies are mesmerising especially on the sunny "Keep Lookin' Up." However, without any reference to Christ, the optimistic tilt of "Keep Lookin' Up" is caricature. Much better in terms of its message is the title cut "Countless," a catchy mid-tempo country tune that reminds of God's providential care. The other overtly Christian number is the Kristi Fitzwater and Jeff Silvery composed "All that Remains to Be Seen." The song is a delightful exposition of progressive sanctification marred by the song's awkward melodic transitions.
The remaining three ballads are in a class of their own. The first few notes of Kenna West and Don Poythress' "Somebody's World Changed Today" immediately transport us into song's narrative. You can't help but be enamoured by the piquant observations of how the joy of a new baby to the loss of a loved one at the grave can impact our lives. Despite the obsoleteness of the pay phone and the veracity of whether 26 cents is enough to make a call these days, "26 Cents" defies the passage of time. A wistful tale of a mother's saying goodbye to her daughter leaving home for college, the song is such a slice of life. Initially a top 5 country hit for the Canadian family trio, the Wilkinsons, back in the 90s, it's a real treat that Endless Highway have revived this gem. "Till They Came Home" is another one of those ballads that goes to the heart. Stringing together stories of soldiers who sacrificed their lives across the various wars fought over history, the song is a powerful and moving tribute.
If you are into songs that tell meaningful and moving stories, this album will more than satisfy. Not only are these stories sung with careful emotional nuances, the vignettes these stories present are not photoshopped. Rather, they unfold with realistic and heartfelt proportions. And at the end of the day, it's hard not to so fall in love with these stories, that you will come back to visit these songs again and again.