Rural Rhythm Christian

About the only thing missing from this debut gospel recording by the east Tennessee quartet Locust Ridge is a rousing stand-up-and-shout number—the kind that rattles the pews. The closest they come are “Silver And Gold” and their cover of the public domain tune “Oh, I Want To See Him,” both of which are excellent tracks that heighten the spirit, but do so in a somewhat relaxed manner.

That lack of a shouter is hardly to be missed and is, moreover, in keeping with the band’s self-stated theme for the recording—that of healing and redemption. All the other hallmarks of a great gospel record are solidly in place. In bassist Larry Allen and guitarist Russell Allen, the group has two highly-talented vocalists, though the notes don’t say who sings what. Regardless, their smooth, warm leads, mixed with the harmony singing of mandolinist Josh Allen and the overall solid musicianship that also includes guitarist Andy Blalock and guest Justin Moses, bring a wonderful flow and sense of peace to these songs. One need only hear the opener “Still Walking On The Water” to recognize their skill. That song alone (written by Russell Allen) is so gentle and effortless and makes you feel so lifted that you could stop right there and be pleased.

That’s followed by any number of similarly affirming songs, the majority of them written by Russell with a couple from other contemporary songwriters and two from public domain. The second track “Healed,” with its vignettes of miracles, stands as a highlight, but so too does “Silver And Gold,” the bluesy shuffle “Canaan’s Land Is Just In Sight,” the call-and-response a cappella “I’m Glad I’m Saved,” and the slow trial-of-life confession of “Mercy Found Me.” Heard all through, you will be soothed, and you’ll never miss the lack of a shouter. (Rural Rhythm, P.O. Box 750, Mt. Juliet, TN 37121,

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