Twice in this new gospel CD from banjoist/guitarist/vocalist Mike Scott, he and his guest musicians hit a stretch of songs that raises the level of interest a notch or two.
The first comes from tracks four through six, starting with a swing-driven “Jesus I’ll Never Forget,” a tune that will be familiar to many, among them fans of Doyle Lawson. On this one, Scott trades verses with Vince Gill, while the support band of Jesse Cobb (mandolin), Jason Carter (fiddle), Ferrell Stowe (resonator guitar), and Dennis Crouch (bass) snap the song along. That is followed by a slower, blues-influenced, swing version of the public domain tune “I Love To Praise Him” and a nice rendition of Hank Williams’ “Sing, Sing, Sing.”
The second stretch runs from tracks eight through twelve and includes the swing-inflected classic “Just Like The Bible Says,” a slow emotional “I Can’t Make It Lord Without You,” and “When The Angels Carry Me Home.” It rounds out with “Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus” and “Since I Laid My Burdens Down,” both among the best tracks on the recording. “Tis So Sweet…” hearkens back to those old parlor-style tunes of the nineteenth century. A simple message with an almost sing-song, nursery-like melody, underscored with triple tremolo mandolin from Buck White, Jesse McReynolds, and John Mayberry, it’s hard not to be swept along. It’s even harder not to be swept along by “Since I Laid My Burdens Down” from the great Malvina Reynolds.
Obviously, there will be those who will think that citing one set of gospel tunes above another misses the point (i.e., the message), and largely they are right. However, it is hard to deny when the music and the message come together and rise up as they do in those two stretches of Scott’s overall fine recording. (Rural Rhythm, P.O. Box 660040, Dept. D, Arcadia, CA 91066, www.ruralrhythm.com.) BW