Produced by Jerry Salley, a highly acclaimed musician, singer and songwriter in his own right, Gonna Sing Gonna Shout offers a dozen songs of faith and devotion from a number of notables — The Whites, Claire Lynch, Kenny & Amanda Smith, and Larry Cordle among them.
The unifying factor in this project is Rick Lang, who wrote or co-wrote all of the songs, and coordinated the recording. A native New Englander, Rick has written music for dozens of bluegrass acts, including IIIrd Tyme Out, Front Range, Donna Ulisse, The Bankesters, Nu-Blu, Larry Stephenson, Junior Sisk, and The Churchmen.
It’s a collection that holds together well, not only because it finds a common cause, but also because Salley manages to give it a consistent clarity, one that’s not only celebratory and satisfying, but also unerringly appealing as well. While the spirituality and sentiment will appeal first and foremost to those who are similarly inclined to practice reverence and religion, each of these offerings are so inviting and engaging, even agnostics might find there’s reason to rejoice.
Indeed, while devotion is given its due diligence, the upbeat attitude ensures these songs stay true to the album’s title. The Whites’ read on the jaunty Don’t Tune Him Out, Cordle’s Sunday Morning Gospel Jubilee, and Marty Raybon’s plucky I See God deliver such positive platitudes they’re all but impossible to resist. They offer what’s best described as a somewhat giddy sound, one that encourages the listener to clap along and indulge in the jubilance and joy. Likewise Dave Adkins’ Thinkin’ Outside the Box and the title track performed by Claire Lynch keep the revelry of a revival intact.
As one might expect, there are some sobering moments as well. Salley himself delivers The Back of the Church, a thoughtful rumination on an outcast who finds solace despite the disproval expressed by certain members of the church’s congregation. However, it’s Bradley Walker’s contribution, Henry Clayton Parker, that might provide the real appeal to those that believe in God but otherwise eschew religion:
“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 have the church in you.”
It’s that inclusive attitude that provides the prevailing mantra overall. There’s nothing in these songs that could be construed as intimidating, insistent, or didactic. While some songs — I’ve Read the Book in particular — could be construed as a bit of Bible beating, most of the material encourages its listeners to simply partake of the energy and enthusiasm.
Gonna Sing Gonna Shout provides those essential additives and more.