Mercy Road Records

Based on the music presented on this new recording from long-running Tennessee-based Lake Side, you’d have to classify them as a gospel group first, a country band second, and a bluegrass group third. Of gospel being first, there can be no doubt. That has been the focus and message of all their previous recordings, and it is the focus and message of this their fourth release since 1995.

Two of those ten songs, as far as I can tell, are band originals, including the uplifting and pleasant flowing “Rising Up” by mandolinist Greg Blankenship, which both opens the recording in fine style and is one of the standout tracks. Gary Woody, who sings on the record, but is not listed as a bandmember, contributes another of the album’s highlights, “Jonah, The Preacher Man,” one of those rousing, quartet-type tunes somewhat reminiscent of the Statler Brothers. Of the rest, only “Going Up” by Vern and Rex Gosdin, qualifies as a standard. The band’s performance and the quality of the tune itself earns the track a highlight status as well.

Bluegrass falls to third billing on this recording because, despite the fact that the core group of bandmembers consists of mandolinist Blankenship, banjoist/guitarist Randy Terry, resonator guitarist Tony Dingus and guitarist Jordan Hamby, all the tracks are augmented by drums and most by piano. Banjo appears prominently only on “Going Up.” The result is that, with the exception of “Going Up,” which is, drums included, bluegrass/gospel through and through, the album has a decidedly strong country sound. The result is also that Lake Side has produced a good record, well-played and well-sung and dotted with several very good tracks, including in addition to those already mentioned, the triumphant “Because He Loved Me” with its stately air and building intensity. (Greg Blankenship, 955 Lakeside Rd., Madisonville, TN 37354,

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