What catches and holds the listener when hearing the Gospel Plowboys for the first time, myself included, is the manner in which they offer their vocals. Smooth. Seamless. Stirring. Clear. Lead or harmony, they never arrange it to cause themselves to strain, and they rarely include soaring, showy flourishes, opting instead for a controlled sound that flows warm and gentle, yet conveys all the emotion and joy and message each song demands.
From the opening track, the Gospel Plowboys (bassist/vocalist Andrew Brown, mandolinist/vocalist David Murph, banjoist John Goodson, and guitarist/vocalists David Brown, Kris Miller and Michael Jenkins) showcase that vocal style with one of those staggered, overlapping harmony songs, “Dearest Friend.” Lots of bands like to include these type songs because they’re fun and give the listener an almost immediate lift. This one certainly does, and the extra touch of holding the line-ending words longer creates a pedal effect and excitement. That is one of several upbeat tunes found here—the sing-song “Saved By The Blood,” the well-known “Daniel Prayed,” and a lively “Everybody Will Be Happy” are the others, and all are highlights.
“Because He Lives,” a standard by The Gaithers, and Russell Easter’s “Forever On My Knees” are more in the medium tempo range, but are no less effective or deserving of praise. Among the standout slow tracks is “Welcome Home,” a beautiful tune that has tension in the verses that melts away in the chorus and makes you feel like you’re home. Equally good is the Bill Castle song “The Dream.” The album then ends on a glorious a cappella tune, “It Is Well With My Soul,” one that further underscores the wonderful vocals of the Gospel Plowboys and makes this such a pleasure to hear. (Mountain Fever, 1177 Alum Ridge Rd., Willis, VA 24380, www.mountainfever.com.)BW