Most bluegrass Gospel recordings tend to go in one of two directions. They either contain bluegrass renditions of classic hymns or they’re a mixture of familiar spirituals with some original material to round it out. Daniel Crabtree’s latest gospel release, Closer Than I’ve Ever Been, doesn’t follow either of those courses. All of the songs were solely written by Crabtree.
Daniel has surrounded himself with a fine cast of supporting players and singers. The bulk of the tracks contain backing vocals from Donna Ulisse, Rick Stanley, and Aaron McCune. The opening track, God Has A Plan, features solid banjo playing from Scott Vestal, as well as great instrumental backing from fiddler Jason Carter, guitarist Cody Kilby, mandolinist Jesse Brock, and bassist Mike Bub. This driving piece does a solid job delivering the message that God has a plan for each individual’s life.
John The Baptist is a true stand out. Inspired by the pastor of his church to write this song, Crabtree presents the story of John The Baptist in a way that no other bluegrass gospel piece has before. This track also contains great performances from mandolinist Harry Clark, fiddler Patrick McAvinue, and bassist Evan Winsor.
The title track Closer Than I’ve Ever Been details nearing the end of a life journey while having God by your side. This song features excellent dobro work from Gaven Largent.
I Found The Rock is performed in somewhat of a traditional vein. Cody Kilby’s lead guitar playing and Aaron McCune’s bass vocals really shine here.
Would You Be A Soldier? is another stand out track on this project. Through this song Daniel Crabtree delivers a really wonderful message about having faith, hope, and strength. It’s a beautiful piece both lyrically and melodically speaking.
Close Than I’ve Ever Been should definitely be in the library of anyone who loves bluegrass gospel music. Daniel Crabtree has stated himself that gospel is his favorite genre of music. It’s evident in this exceptional collection of original material.