C. S. Lewis once said, "Friendship is born when one man says to another, 'What! You too? I thought that no one but myself..." A cordial friendship is immediately struck when one listens to the LeBeaus' "The Bridge." On these 11 tracks, this Gospel country driven father and son duo presents characters so three-dimensionally real that we can't help but treat them like friends. And through their stories, these friends help us along the path to greater holiness. With the way Tim and Timmy LeBeau sing, we are given front row seats as these characters unveil their struggles, fears, hope and faith in front of us. In seeing their life stories, we see ourselves as well. Hailed from Lexington, North Carolina, the LeBeaus have been involved in Christian music since their debut record the eponymous "The LeBeaus." Over the years, they have blessed us with fan favorites such as "I've Been Changed," "So You Would Know," "Already On My Knees" and "Ask Me." "The Bridge" is their third release that features two traditional hymns, an instrumental version of the Southern classic "I'll Fly Away," covers and originals.
Stylistically, the LeBeaus are singers from the neo-traditional school of country that can be traced back to Randy Travis, Dwight Yoakam, George Strait and the great honky tonk singers. This means "The Bridge" is distinctively country with loads of fiddles, mandolins and pedal steels enveloping tunes that are catchy and memorable. If anything, "The Bridge" is what country gospel ought to be in the 21st Century. As far as cover tunes go, the LeBeaus are to be congratulated for their choices. They have not gone for the trite and true evidenced by their cover of Josh Tuner's "The Way He Was Raised." Utilizing the genre's penchant for narratives, this ballad is a heart rendering re-telling of the parable of the prodigal son told in the garbs of a small southern town. Country fans may recognize "Would They Love Him" as the late George Jones and Charlie Rich's duet. Often we sneered at the Pharisees for being blinded in seeing who Jesus truly was; but if Jesus were walking in our streets today, would we be different from the Pharisees? This is the challenge of "Would They Love Him:" "If they saw Him riding in, long hair flying in the wind/Would they love Him down in Shreveport today?/If they heard He was a Jew and a Palestinian too/Would they love Him down in Nashville today?"
The covers are not constraint to just the country genre: the LeBeaus have gone for a countrified cover of worship leader Lenny LeBlanc's "The Bridge." "The Bridge" begs for a country cover with its narrative style. Brilliantly stringing together pearls of testimonies of people stepping out in faith, these stories function as a great cloud of witnesses cheering us on in our own faith journey. Steven Curtis Chapman's "The Change" has a stomping country rock shuffle that somehow doesn't work as well as the other covers. "I'll Fly Away," on the other hand, is a spit fire marathon of sizzling fiddling and dobro that would be a sonic paradise for those who adore great instrumental bluegrass greats such as Ricky Skaggs or Craig Duncan. While many songs on heaven are slowly and dirge-like, lead single "Heaven Bound" finds the father and son bustling through what is perhaps one of the most upbeat jovial song about God's abode.
Just like their previous efforts, here we find two hymns through into the mix. Whilst many are familiar with the chorus of "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus," it's wonderful to hear the verses sung too. Those who love the Southern gospel harmony will dig their take of "The Old Rugged Cross." Listening to "The Bridge" is like hearing stories from an old acquaintance sharing their life experiences. And if you listen to them long enough, they become friends. They become friends who can come alongside of us in our times of weariness urging us to soldier on for Christ.