Mountain Faith has a story that embodies an important niche in bluegrass music—the family band. The group started as so many have, with parents attending a festival, someone getting an instrument as a gift and the next thing you know, the fever has taken over and church and small local festival gigs become something to do. What helps separate these stories is the presence to add good musicians regardless of whether they are related, and of course, talent. Both counts come through on the gospel debut from Mountain Faith, Save Me.
If you’re going to play for the gospel crowd, you better have some vocal chops, and Summer Brooke McMahan takes the lead on most of the songs and runs with them, giving no indication she is still in her teens. She gives the all-gospel CD a strong start on “Morning’s Coming” and later on “Save Me,” arguably the best cut on the project. It’s a safe bet that no one grew up singing “Love Lifted Me” at the breakneck speed the band does, but it is a bold take on an old standard.
If Summer’s vocals grab your attention, it is hard to miss the driving, traditional banjo playing of brother Brayden McMahan. Brayden’s kickoff on “Welcome Home” is first-rate, and his backup throughout is well-styled and tasteful. Paul Harrigill on mandolin and John Morgan on guitar round out a very professional sound. If you’re going to do a gospel album, it doesn’t hurt to have a Southern Gospel Hall of Fame member as your producer and bassist/resnotar guitar player in Balsam Range’s Tim Surrett. Summer and Brayden’s dad, Sam McMahan, who plays bass for the group on live appearances, is not on the recording.
The group has recently worked dates with Barry Scott and Save Me shows potential to get them on the bluegrass gospel stage in their right. (Crossroads Music, P.O. Box Box 829, Arden, NC 28704, www.crossroadsmusic.com.) MB