Not many groups who began playing together in the 1950s are still going strong today – particularly not with their original lineup still intact. James, Russell, and Edd Easter – more commonly known as The Easter Brothers – are one of the few. Throughout the years, the brothers have collectively written more than 400 songs, many of which are now bluegrass and Southern Gospel classics, and steadily released albums over six decades. They’ve recently released an all-new collection, titled I’d Do It All Over Again, on Pisgah Ridge Records.
Fans of classic Gospel sounds will surely enjoy this ten-track collection, which features both originals from the brothers as well as several songs pulled from other well-known Gospel songwriters. The brothers take care of vocal duties throughout the album, revealing voices that, while a bit weathered from the years, are still strong and spirited. They’re joined by a talented band made up of some of today’s top bluegrass musicians. Andy Leftwich (fiddle, mandolin), Cody Kilby (guitar), Justin Moses (banjo, dobro), and Byron House (bass) provide solid, contemporary-tinged bluegrass instrumentation, while Steve Schramm (drums) and Les Butler (piano) add a little Southern Gospel flair.
Things start off on a strong note with Let the Hallelujahs Roll, which speaks of praising God even in hard times. The contrast between the brothers’ traditional vocal style and the contemporary music is interesting, but ultimately works – the song is uplifting and a great opening track. The Crossing, one of three tracks written by Gerald Crabb, has the same mixture of contemporary and traditional sounds. It shares a message of hope for those who have wearied of suffering, in that their pain will be relieved someday soon in heaven.
A few of the songs lean more toward Southern Gospel. Old-Fashioned Talk with the Lord, an original from the brothers, urges those who have drifted away from God to pull out their Bibles and hymn books and “pour out your heart to him there.” The brothers’ harmonies are tight, and the piano is a nice touch. The Good Old Days, written by the brothers along with Russell’s son Russell, Jr., is an upbeat number which reflects on life growing up in the hills of North Carolina and the powerful praise to be found in a simple country church.
I Didn’t Leave Like I Came, another original, is an excellent traditional-sounding number with strong banjo and stirring lyrics about the power of salvation. The title track, which closes out the album, also has a traditional feel. It comes courtesy of Crabb, and fits the brothers well. Its story is of a musician who has spent his whole life working for the Lord, and would gladly do it again if it meant he could hear the Lord tell him “well-done, when life’s race is run.”
I’d Do It All Over Again is a fantastic Gospel collection, with plenty of inspirational and encouraging songs that bluegrass fans of all ages should enjoy. It’s available now from a variety of online music retailers.