When it comes to bluegrass Gospel, Rick Lang is one of very best songwriters in the genre.
The latest proof can be found on Gonna Sing, Gonna Shout, a dozen songs “from the pen of Rick Lang” on Billy Blue Records. It’s a top-shelf collection from Lang, assisted on some by IBMA Songwriter of the Year recipients Jerry Salley, Becky Buller, and Jon Weisberger, along with multi-time nominee Mark “Brink” Brinkman and a couple of other writing partners.
And if that’s not enough, a Who’s Who cast of stars handles vocal duties, including Dave Adkins, Marty Raybon, Claire Lynch, Bradley Walker, Amanda Smith, Larry Cordle, The Whites, The Cox Family, High Road, and Salley, who also produced the project.
Two powerful vocals from Adkins bookend the CD, Thinkin’ Outside The Box at the top and There Is A Light at the end. Lang wrote the first with Salley and the last with Billy Smith. Anyone who hasn’t heard Adkins and his Gospel trio is missing out on a special treat. He’s blessed with a big voice and he uses it here adroitly.
Lang’s melodies are refreshlingly outside the box, and his writing is rich in imagery and powerful in message. Some of the messages are traditional, such as in They Were Fisherman, written by Lang and Weisberger and sung by Smith, and the title cut, a solo write by Lang with a swinging vocal by Claire Lynch.
Some of the other cuts take some liberties. Heaven’s Back Yard, penned by Lang and Salley and sung by High Road, imagines what paradise is like. And another Lang-Weisberger collaboration, called Henry Clayton Parker, preaches that church isn’t the only place to find religion. This song, with Bradley Walker handling the vocals, is my favorite among the dozen songs. It’s traditional bluegrass and the writing is phenomenal. They sum up this theology thusly: “There’s more than one way to be saved from Henry’s point of view. You don’t have to be inside a church when you’ve got the church in you.” Amen.
A previous Gospel collection from Lang, 2010’s Look to the Light, was nominated for Dove and IBMA awards. That was a powerful record. This one, to me is even stronger and should pick up its share of nominations and maybe, this time, take home a trophy.
Trophy or not, Lang has delivered a winner that’s worth singing and shouting about.