Ann Porcella has gathered a group of talented friends to help her on this solo release of 14 songs. She has Paul Brown on banjo, Mark Clifton on resonator and Weissenborn guitar, Ira Gitlin on guitar, Marcy Marxer on percussion, Al Murphy on fiddle and mandolin, Bill Schmidt on banjo and guitar and Flawn Williams and Dede Wyland on backup vocals.
Porcella sings in a range and voice that reminds me of Patsy Cline, though her material is much more traditional. She opens with A.P. Carter’s “I Have An Aged Mother” with just her voice and guitar and closes with the a cappella “Farewell, My Friends.” She follows with Fran Weber’s lovely “Bluegrass Lullaby” which adds mandolin, resonator guitar, and three-part vocals to the arrangement. “Building On That Rock” is by Julia Mainer and adds Bill Schmidt’s banjo to Porcella’s guitar and voice. Ralph Stanley and Bill Clifton wrote “Stairway To Heaven.” Three of the songs are by E.J. Blombergand/J.L. Nelson, “Country Girl,” “The Solid Rock” (lyrics by Edward Mote), and “Charlotte’s Song.” Porcella wrote the title cut, “Gathering Stones,” which uses her full vocal range.
This recording is a showcase for Ann Porcella’s singing, and that is always in the forefront with these simple, but effective arrangements. She has a warm and strong voice and lots of interesting material, new, old, and traditional. There is quite a bit of gospel here, but if there is a unifying theme, it is to try to get in touch with a variety of very strong emotions, especially dealing with loss of loved ones, by singing through them. Those who enjoy strong and heartfelt singing will enjoy Ann Porcella’s recording. (Angelita Porcella, 3503 Keene Ave., Baltimore, MD 21214.) SAG