The Edwards Family travelled full time from 1974 to 1984. They recorded eight albums and sold over 10, 000 copies. Later on, father, Jim and some of his children put out three tapes. Here, I am reviewing the CD entitled THE BEST OF THE EDWARDS FAMILY which has twenty-one tracks, with multiple songs on some of them. It clocks in at 78 minutes and 50 seconds.
Starting things off, we have Jim’s son’s quartet, Willing Vessel. Mark Edwards has a good voice. ‘Faith of My Father’ is a nice country ballad that includes these words: “Faith of my father is living in me/Faith that God loves even me/In every song that I sing for You/There is faith of my father in me.../There’s a day comin’ soon/When ‘Well done!’/We’ll hear/From our heavenly Father/And we’ll never say goodbye again”. ‘Old Camp Meeting Time’ is a real toe-tapper. It seems to be very similar tune and sound-wise to the old Southern Gospel classic ‘Get Thee Behind Me Satan’. These lyrics reflect on revival in years past: “You can say what you want, you can say what you will/I’m not crazy, I remember still/The time when gettin’ saved made some shout/And it was old camp meeting time/It was old camp meeting time/The saints began to pray, shoutin’ ‘Glory’ as they sang/It was old camp meeting time”.
‘Amazing Grace’ includes a great electric guitar solo and testifies: “It’s amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me/And when I die I know that I will run into the arms of amazing grace”. ‘That’s Him’ speaks of Christ: “That’s Him, He’s Sharon’s Rose/That’s Him, our Morningstar that glows/He’s Alpha, Omega, the Beginning and the End/That’s Him”. A dandy ragtime version, complete with horns, of ‘I Wouldn’t Take Nothing for my Journey Now’ is next.
Track 5 on the CD begins the retro Edwards Family material. ‘Say I Do’ was popularized by Evie. Here, it is a nice country gospel song that includes these lyrics: “Anybody here wanna live forever?/Say ‘I do’/Anybody here wanna walk on golden streets?/Say ‘I do’/Anybody here sick and tired of livin’ like you do?/Anybody here wanna home with love forever?/Say ‘I do’”. Jim’s daughter takes the lead on the popular chorus ‘Thy Loving Kindness’. Here it is given the country gospel treatment. ‘Over the Next Hill’ reminds us that this earth is not our home: “I’m sailing toward home on the old ship of Zion/I see the lights upon the lakes across the misty fold/Angels guide my vessel till I’m safe within the harbor/Captain guide my ship till I get home”. ‘Thank God For Daddy’ is delivered with innocence: “I have a heavenly mansion where I’ll live forever and in that heavenly city I shall see my dear Savior/But till I reach that place in glory/My Daddy is with me/He’s the head of our home as spoken in God’s Word”.
‘More About Jesus’ is an old ballad that features nice harmonies and is Christ-centred: “More, more about Jesus (2X)/More of His saving fullness see/More of His love who died for me/More about Jesus let me learn/More of His holy will discern”. It is easy listening. April Joy delivers ‘Walkin’ in the Spirit’, an upbeat country gospel song of testimony: “I used to walk with the wicked, talk with the foolish/Singin’ a song of the blues/No one to talk to, no one to trust in, nobody gave a hoot/Well, they were too busy even to see me and even know my name/But I was gettin’ fed up, my life was all messed up/Thinkin’ the world was to blame/Then someone said Jesus loved me, said He would save me/He’d come and live inside of me/Said He would help me, He would do it for me supernaturally/So now I’m walkin’ in the Spirit, talkin’ in the Spirit/Singin’ a song of praise/Prayin’ in the Spirit/Trust in the Spirit/ Happy all the day”.
Mark Edwards contributes ‘I Need a Friend’, an artistic rock song. ‘Don’t Ever Let Go of My Hand’ is a pleasant country gospel song that many will be able to relate to: “I just came through a battle Lord and thanks to You I won/The dark clouds are disappearing now and here comes the sun/I’ve been a long time in this valley, but there’s a mountain just ahead/And I’ll make it with You holding my hands”. ‘Be Not Afraid’ speaks of God’s power to intervene in our lives: “Once my ship was sinking/’Twas the end I was thinking/And there was no lifeboat ‘tween me and the sea/In despair I cried out and plead/’Dear God, please save me’/’Twas then my Lord’s sweet hand of love lifted me/He said ‘Be not afraid, ‘tis only the Master/Calmin’ the storms/Removin’ all harm/Now be of good cheer/Your Saviour’s here now...”.
Jim Edwards sings lead on ‘Thank You Lord’, a great country ballad that includes these thoughts: “Thank You Lord for Your blessings on me/There’s a roof up above me/I’ve a good place to sleep/There’s food on my table and shoes on my feet/You gave me Your love Lord and a fine family/Thank You Lord for Your blessings on me”. April sings lead on Track 17, ‘Born Again’. It is a cheery tune: “Born again, there’s really been a change in me/Born again, just like Jesus said/Born again and all because of Calvary/I’m so glad, so glad that’ I’ve been born again”. Jim sings harmony. Track 19 looks forward to a family reunion: “Oh, there’s gonna be a meeting in the air, in the sweet by and by/I’m going to meet you, meet you over there/In that home beyond the sky/What singing you will hear, never heard by mortal ear/We’ll be glorious I do declare/And God’s own Son will be the leading One/In that meeting in the air”. Track 20 is a more recent modern country recording featuring April declaring her love. It’s called ‘I Want You’.
Some of the lyrical themes on THE BEST OF THE EDWARDS FAMILY include: seeking after Jesus, coming to the end of ourselves and falling into the arms of Jesus, joy in the Lord and in being a Christian, a desire for all to be saved, Jesus as Best Friend, loving our fellow man, Jesus as the Ultimate Answer, and our hope of heaven as believers. This project is family based, rated G, country gospel music. It will appeal mainly to the older crowd. I’m rating it 85%. Jim Edwards, who will be 86 in October, plans a tour of retirement homes in Eastern Ontario. The Edwards Family will appear with The Torchmen Quartet on Wednesday, June 24th, from 7-9pm at Music in Aurora Town Park on Wells Street. For more info or to obtain a copy of this CD for ten bucks, please contact Jim at: firstname.lastname@example.org.