Following a great Easter weekend celebrating Christ’s resurrection with loved ones, I decided to choose one of my favorite Gospel albums for this Album of the Week: Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver’s Kept & Protected from 1997.
Ever since their second album in 1981 (the quintessential Rock My Soul), Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver have been leaders in bluegrass Gospel music. Doyle’s father, Leonard, sang at the church where Doyle grew up, and Gospel music holds a very special place in his heart. You can see it on stage and in his recordings. His ability take hymnbook favorites and new songs of inspiration, and make them Quicksilver standards is remarkable.
The first Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver concert I can vividly remember was when I was six years old. Barry Scott had just signed on with the group, and Kept & Protected was either just out, or just about out. I was finally old enough to sit and listen to good music, and Doyle and company mesmerized me as a six-year old kid (they still do). We soon had a copy of the new record – which rarely left the player – and it has been one of my favorite Gospel albums since.
Quicksilver had a stellar lineup when this one was recorded: Doyle (of course) on mandolin, Dale Perry on bass, Barry Abernathy on banjo, Owen Saunders on fiddle, and Barry Scott on guitar. Vocally, this is definitely one of Quicksilver’s stronger lineups.
This vocal prowess is in full display on the a cappella version of Let My Life Be A Light. Barry Abernathy takes the lead on this one from the old song book, with Doyle singing baritone, Barry Scott singing tenor, and Dale Perry providing the rock solid bass. A great message song which we should all take to heart, this is one of the more memorable vocal performances in Quicksilver’s 30+ years, in my opinion.
Then newcomer Barry Scott really shines on his recording debut for Quicksilver. His singing demand attention throughout the entire album. Scott’s honest vocals are never better on I’ll Trade the Old Cross (for a Crown). An antique of a song written by Johnson Oatsman, Jr (who penned such classics as The Hallelujah Side and Higher Ground), the lyrics are simply captivating, and Scott sings them beautifully. He delivers the song with such conviction, you might feel as if he wrote the song himself.
Another hymnbook favorite which featured here is The Glory-Land Way (sometimes known as I’m In The Gloryland Way). The band is really firing on all cylinders here. In addition to solid vocals, Doyle’s mandolin sets the tone as Owen Saunders’ fiddle and Barry Abernathy’s banjo contribute to an all-around great track. The guys makes it look easy on this one.
Kept & Protected also features a handful of songs written by Paul Humphrey, or better known to bluegrass fans as Paul Williams. Paul wrote three songs on the album: The Vision, Kept and Protected By God’s Love, and We’ll Go Home Together On The Cloud.
The Vision is a powerful song. It tells of a man visiting heaven in his dreams. The descriptions paint a beautiful picture of Paradise. Doyle’s vocal delivery receives powerful support from special guest Jerry Douglas on dobro.
We’ll Go Home Together On The Cloud was one of my favorite songs as a child. I’d walk around singing it – and I’ll Fly Away – all of the time. When I first met Paul Williams, my parents told me that he was the man who wrote that song, and I was in awe! It’s a great reminder of the day when God calls His children home.
“Each day brings us closer brings us closer to those heavenly portals,
by the grace of God that’s where we’re bound.
If you go before I do, rest assured I’m coming too.
We’ll go home together on the cloud.”
A feel-good song that reminds us that living in this world is only a temporary condition, this song will help you keep eternity in view.
It’s really hard to not talk about every track on this album, because they all strike me as standouts. A great mix of forgotten chestnuts and new favorites executed with precision in both the singing and picking, this is a classic bluegrass gospel project from Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver.
Kept & Protected was released on Sugar Hill Records (SH-3867) and can be purchased from County Sales and the Classic Country Connection. It can also be downloaded digitally from iTunes and Amazon MP3.
Make sure you check out this great gospel project from the School of Bluegrass: Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver.