Once again, Joe Mullins & the Radio Ramblers have returned to the deep, abiding well of bluegrass gospel where, from time to time, they seek—and find—renewed inspiration. Sacred Memories is a worthy sequel to the band’s last gospel outing, Hymns From The Hills, from 2011. And like its predecessor, the new disc is a dynamic testament of faith and renewal.
The album opens with a pair of irrepressibly hopeful and celebratory songs—“When The Sun Of Life Goes Down” (penned by W.A. McKinney) and “All Dressed Up With Somewhere To Go” (Jerry Salley and Diane Wilkinson)—that seek to perform the miracle of turning lemons (in this case, death) into lemonade (the promise of eternal life). Mullins & Co. are joined on several cuts by a short list of illustrious guests, including Rhonda Vincent, The Isaacs (Ben, Sonya, and Rebecca), Ricky Skaggs and Sharon White, and Charli Robertson and Kelsi Harrigill of Flatt Lonesome.
Among the many memorable cuts is an epic rendition of Dolly Parton’s “Sacred Memories” on which Skaggs and White join on lead vocals. Equally moving is a slow, soulful, and starkly unique a cappella rendition of “Will The Circle Be Unbroken” featuring The Isaacs in all their vocal glory. (Rebel Records, P.O. Box 7405, Charlottesville, VA 22906, www.rebelrecords.com.)BA