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JFH Music Review

Smalltown Poets, 'Smalltown Poets'

Smalltown Poets
Smalltown Poets

Artist Info: Discography
Genre(s): Pop Rock / Alternative
Album length: 11 tracks: 41 minutes, 17 seconds
Street Date: March 25, 1997


For my money, Georgia-based band Smalltown Poets' Self-Titled debut album was the best 90s college alt-rock album of its time. Released in 1997, it stands as a testament to the era's predominate musical palate, offering a refreshing blend of earnestness and musicality reminiscent of its contemporaries from the mainstream, like The Gin Blossoms and The Goo Goo Dolls. Mirroring an influence without ripping them off is hard to do, but the Poets do so successfully.

The opening run of four tracks, spanning smash hit "Prophet, Priest, and King" to the soaring ballad "I'll Give," is the album's peak stretch, but the b-side of the album is no slouch either. Another favorite is "Scenario," which features relatable gratitudes for the grace of God like, "My faults do run deep/your mercies deeper." Additionally, "Monkey's Paw," the heaviest song of the album, stands out with a delightful groove, crunchy guitars, and a wailing solo.

Lastly, the album ends on a highly effective one-two punch with the worshipful track, "Trust," and the convicting "Inside the Bubble." The lyrics of "Trust," in particular, bear highlight with its heartfelt invitation to "Take this bread, drink this cup/Know this price has pardoned you/From all that's hardened you/But it's going to take some trust." The warmth of the heavenly sentiment and the near-strained vocal is the band at its ardent best.

At now twenty-seven years since its release at the time of this writing, Smalltown Poets' Self-Titled album more than holds up. I would even go so far as to say it's among the best top-to-bottom albums of 90s CCM with "Prophet, Priest, and King" at the very least a must for any playlist of the era. All in all, this is still a favorite album of CCM for this listener/reviewer, as I return to it several times a year. You can't miss this one if you love 90s alt rock!

- Review date: 3/25/24, written by Josh Balogh of

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. Record Label: Forefront Records
. Album length: 11 tracks: 41 minutes, 17 seconds
. Street Date: March 25, 1997
. Buy It: (CD)
. Buy It: Amazon Music (MP3)

  1. Prophet, Priest and King (3:36)
  2. If You'll Let Me Love You (3:02)
  3. Everything I Hate (3:11)
  4. I'll Give (4:01)
  5. Anymore (3:21)
  6. Who You Are (3:17)
  7. Scenario (3:31)
  8. There's a Day (4:00)
  9. Monkey's Paw (3:05)
  10. Trust (3:31)
  11. Inside the Bubble (6:43)



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