After successful release of ‘Quarry’ in 2010, ‘Big Man’ in 2015 and ‘State of Health’ in 2017, Idiot Grins are back with their fourth full-length album ‘Thoughts & Prayers’. This extremely talented rock and soul quintet from Oakland, California includes guitarist Randy Strauss, vocalist John Hansen, bassist Evan Eustis, drummer Michael Melgoza and keyboard player Mike Conner. Their latest album ‘Thoughts & Prayers’ comprises 12 song-for-song covers of Louvin Brothers’ 1959 gospel album ‘Satan Is Real’. Idiot Grins’ twanging guitar, superb vocals and expert instrumentation make this gospel album intriguing and authentic.
‘Thoughts & Prayers’ Tracklist
- Satan Is Real
- There’s a Higher Power
- The Christian Life
- The River of Jordan
- The Kneeling Drunkard’s Plea
- Are You Afraid to Die
- He Can Be Found
- Dying from Home, And Lost
- The Drunkard’s Doom
- Satan’s Jeweled Crown
- The Angels Rejoiced Last Night
- I’m Ready to Go Home
The album opens with “Satan Is Real”, a sermon track with lazy waltz of acoustic guitar. It presents a terrific vision of HHHHell and enlightens the listener about how our earthly actions determine whether we go to Hell or Heaven. The track sends out a polite warning that we must always stay alert against the Devil.
Following next is an upbeat, bouncy track “There’s a Higher Power” with an uplifting vibe. Rolling drums and a plucky guitar make it a toe-tapping number. “The Christian Life” is a laidback country track with plinking instruments and reedy gospel vocals, while the fast-paced “The River of Jordan” delivers biblical narrative with shimmering guitars.
“The Kneeling Drunkard’s Plea” is about praying to God to have mercy and to redeem one from the clutches of alcohol, while “Are You Afraid to Die?” addresses the topic of mortality and the fear of death. “He Can Be Found” is about experiencing God everywhere around us and in everything that we do.
“Dying from Home, And Lost” is different from other tracks in the album in that it’s a delightful waltz with a right mix of rock and roll. “The Drunkard’s Doom” captures the grief of a wretched couple who lost their infant, whereas “Satan’s Jeweled Crown” delves into the concept of salvation.
“The Angels Rejoiced Last Night” radiates optimism and lifts the mood with subtle drums and eloquent piano. “I’m Ready to Go Home” closes the album with a message of hope. It’s filled with a sense of longing and nostalgia as the lyrics describe the journey to Heaven.
‘Thoughts & Prayers’ is a faithful rendition of Louvin Brothers’ 1959 classic. Idiot Grins have managed to cover the original album wonderfully well with tight harmonies and beautiful vocals.