Suppose you are in 1972 and you have just played an Inspirations LP. You step into a time machine. When you step back out, forty-five years have passed, and it is 2017. Once you learn to play Spotify on an iPhone—a marvelous invention, yes?—you play the new Inspirations release, The One in the Water. You say, “Well, whatever else has changed, the Inspirations sure haven’t.”
But of course, you are quickly told that there have been dramatic changes. Founding tenor Archie Watkins left eight years ago. Founding pianist Martin Cook recently retired due to health issues, leading to Archie Watkins making one of the least-anticipated comebacks in quartet history.
Watkins’ wasn’t the only return. In fact, two of the other three members of the group’s 1972 lineup have also returned, bass Marlin Schubert (after a forty-five-year absence!) and baritone Eddie Dietz. Lead singer Matt Dibler appears to be the only remaining vocalist who was a member when the year began. (Luke Vaught is now the pianist, and SGHistory credits Casey Johnson and Roland Kesterson as band members.)
The songs are exactly what a fan of the classic Inspirations sound would hope to find. There are two classic quartet songs, “I Want to Be Like My Lord” and “I Shall Not Be Moved.” And there are shoutin’ songs from writers as diverse as Kyla Rowland (“The One In The Water”) and Matthew and Tommy Browder (“I Am Blessed.”)
“We Are Christians” and “Jesus, They’re Offended At Your Name” have exactly the sort of lyrics practically every Southern Gospel group used to sing in the ’90s. The time-machine effect is particularly strong here. It’s hard to listen to these without a poignant nostalgia for simpler times when Christians were concerning themselves about whether unbelievers said “Merry Christmas.”
The One In The Water is exactly the record that fans of the classic Inspirations hoped this reunion lineup would make.
Watch for another perspective, from Kyle, next week!
Producer: Jeff Collins
Songs: The One in the Water, I Want To Be Like My Lord, I Know Him, When Jesus Turns My Prison Into My Shouting Ground, I Shall Not Be Moved, Teaching Me to Fly, I Am So Blessed, We Are Christians, Thank God For Preachers, Jesus They’re Offended At Your Name
Rating: 4 stars.