Although Chosen Road has been performing and ministering together for nearly twelve years, they have found their most recent success after partnering with Song Garden Music Group and releasing Appalachian Worship last year, which found immediate success on Billboard’s Top Bluegrass Album chart. The group has now released the anticipated follow up, Appalachian Hymns.
Much like its predecessor, Appalachian Hymns is a collection of standard Gospel material done in a contemporary bluegrass fashion. The vocals and musicianship are first rate. At the time of the recording, Chosen Road consisted of Jonathan Buckner on guitar, Zachary Alvis on mandolin, and Tyler Robertson on bass, banjo, and guitar. The group has since added Josh Hicks on banjo. Fiddler Stephen Burwell, bass vocalist Corey Ferguson, and keyboardist Scotty Wilbanks also make guest appearances on various tracks, providing even more depth to the group’s sound.
The biggest strength of this recording is the arrangements, which I’m sure is a lot of the reason Chosen Road’s previous release is so well regarded. This is most evident on Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing and My Savior’s Love. Both songs have been sung by numerous church congregations and other Gospel groups over the years, but Chosen Road has taken them and put their own stamp on it. Some of the other tracks on this project are wonderful examples of the group’s individual strengths. How Beautiful Heaven Must Be and O What a Glad Day are prime examples of Chosen Road’s robust vocal harmonies. Other songs such as Send The Light, Nothing But The Blood of Jesus, and Are You Washed In The Blood spotlight the group’s talents as dynamic instrumentalists.
My one criticism of Appalachian Hymns is it’s pacing and sequencing. Several songs here are done at a slow and relaxed tempo, which works well for much of this material. When you have several of them featured in a row though, it can make for a tedious listen.
Appalachian Hymns is a nicely done recording. Like their prior release, Chosen Road has taken some of the most known and beloved hymns, and put their own imprint on it. This latest effort is yet another example of how this group ministers through their music and does so respectfully.