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Now Hear This: Thoughts & Prayers - Idiot Grins

Rating: ***

Walk down that dirt road over there...farther...just a little bit farther... Now, you see that ramshackle old church at the end of the road? Go inside and sit for a spell. It might do you good.

The opening track, ;Satan Is Real,; is, for my money, as scary as death metal. It features a swelling organ (hey now!)and a spoken benediction that lays it all out for you.

Watch video for "Satan is Real" on YouTube below:

Don’t let it be said that the Idiot Grins try to hide their agenda, and I think they should get some cry now!)edit for that. This us not your wimpy, probably-Christian-but-vague enough-to-be basically humanist ‘rock’ music. . This is straight up testimony.

Clearly and admittedly influenced by the sound of the Louvin Brothers, this collection of 12 old-timey gospel numbers (or new ones that sound old-timey) definitely feels like church.

It is, however, a church grounded in a real-world filled with drunks (two songs) and temptations fby Satan( also two songs). There are also two songs about dying, and only one about angels, so it's not exactly a light-hearted sermon.

This not some hippy-dippy, peace and love, Godspell kind of Christianity. If you'll turn in your hymnals I mean, play the record , you’ll notice that old favorite,” the Kneeling Drunkard’s Plea.”

It's on this track that the high lonesome, church choir harmonies of idiot Grins really shine. “The Kneeling Drunkard’s Plea” will either make you walk a sober path or, have another drink It’s that powerful.

If the lyrical message is a little one-dimensional, the tempo is varied enough that you won't fall asleep in your pew. And these are some top-notch players. Everything sounds real, and in such a manufactured age, there's a joy in that alone, whether you buy the message or not.

But if you're in just the right mood and want to hear some flawless Appalachian harmonies, this half hour or so of overtly religious music might actually take you to a higher place.

Make no mistake—“thoughts and prayers” is a dark dive and not what you would call a feel-good record, but the voices on it sounds so human that by the end of the service, cleansed by the power of bluegrass, you might find yourself looking for the donation plate.

Three heavenly stars (not my thing, but they do it well)

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