Prime Cuts: Grace Ain't Fair, If God Pulled Back the Curtain, Still Free
Overall Grade: 4/5
Song titles are like advertising slogans. Some can so whet our appetites that we feel compelled to listen to them. Such is the case with some of the enties on the Nelon's "Peace At last." Titulars such as "The Devil Taught Me Pray," "If God Pulled Back the Curtain" and "Grace Ain't Fair" not only are filled intrigue, they have a drawing power that grips our attention from the first note to the last. All of this is thanks to Jason Clark and Dove Award-winner Wayne Haun who wrote the bulk of this 13-song oeuvre, along with contributions from acclaimed writers such as Tony Wood, Joel Lindsey, Kenna West, Michael Boggs, and Reba Rambo and Dony McGuire.
Just like what's represented in their discography, where they have cut an Americana album alongside Southern Gospel albums, the songs on this new record also compasses a plethora of styles. On one hand, you have the orchestrated offerings, such as the cinematic "Still Free," which retells the story of Daniel in the lion's den. On the other hand, you have the folky acoustic-based "Patience of Job." Though the seed thoughts of both songs emanate out of the Old Testament, they are both polar opposites in terms of execution, adding to the variety of the record.
Not to be missed are a couple of stellar ballads including "If God Pulled Back the Curtain" and "Grace Ain't Fair." Though both tracks deal with the theme of grace, yet they present different aspects of it. "The former deals with the surprise many of us will experience at who we will see in heaven. The latter takes a more introspective look at God's saving grace delivered in heartfelt measures. The barnburner "Jordan" with those Band Perry-esque percussion is okay without being exceptional. A tad better is the stripped-down harmony layered "Children Sing" and the country-tinged "Two Are Better than One." Though the rootsy "The Devil Taught Me to Pray" has an interesting storyline, the melody isn't very sturdy.
"Peace at Last" is an interesting album on so many fronts. First, the diversity of the songs' executions make each song bears their own identity. Second, instead of saying the same things over and over again, these songs often present the gorgeous themes of scripture in fresh ways. Third, the harmonies of the group make these songs come alive.