Various Artists – Country Faith Bluegrass
Country Faith Bluegrass, the tenth in the Country Faith music compilation series is a nice survey of bluegrass Gospel music. According to the liner notes by Deborah Evans Price, this is the first album in the series to feature all new recordings which are produced by Jerry Salley. Country Faith Bluegrass uniquely combines these new recordings alongside previously released material.
The recordings done specifically for this project features a who’s who of talent such as Dolly Parton, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, Marty Raybon, and The SteelDrivers among others. These tracks also feature a strong cast of supporting musicians such as Aaron McDaris on banjo, Justin Moses on resonator guitar and mandolin, Mike Bub on upright bass, and Jason Roller on fiddle and guitar.
While most of the material here is standard Gospel fare, each artist performs it in their own identifiable styles. The most noteworthy example is Working On A Building by Dale Ann Bradley and the Issacs. One wouldn’t typically use the word haunting to describe this song, but this particular rendition makes the description one hundred percent appropriate. Other stand out performances include Shall We Gather at the River by Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, Rank Strangers by Joe Mullins & the Radio Ramblers, and Drifting Too Far From The Shore by Darin and Brooke Aldridge.
There’s also a few original songs featured amongst the newer recordings such as My Future Ain’t What It Used To Be. Written by Dianne Wilkinson and Jerry Salley, the song is performed in a lively spirit by Marty Raybon and Salley. Another notable track is Walk With Me, featuring country singer Caeland Garner. Written by Garner along with Jerry Salley and Kelly Collins, the pairing of Garner and Balsam Range is incredibly effective here. River of Forgiveness penned by Tammy Rogers and Salley is a wonderful a cappella piece. The SteelDrivers’ performance is yet another nice contribution to this project.
The other tracks on Country Faith Bluegrass come from previously released recordings such as All Prayed Up from Vince Gill’s 2006 album These Days, Will There Be Any Stars In My Crown from I Know Who Holds Tomorrow, the 1994 collaboration between Alison Krauss and the Cox Family, and Daniel Prayed from the acclaimed Mountain Soul recording by Patty Loveless. Sequencing is essential here. Combining old recordings alongside brand new material can either make or break a compilation of this nature. In this case it paid off. All the songs fit together really smoothly.
Country Faith Bluegrass is a great representation of the Gospel side of the bluegrass genre. Even though you may have some of the older recordings in your music collection already, this project is still worth picking up for all the wonderful new performances.
NOTE: The digital version of this project only offers the newly recorded tracks. The full project is available from Cracker Barrel, either online or at the restaurants.