Gospel has been an inherent part of the bluegrass tradition since early on, and even today, innumerable artists still refer to it in song and style. Tyler Mullins is an unapologetic religious devotee, having suffered with medical issues as a child, and then blessed to have found the strength to deal with his malady through faith and fortitude.
Naturally then, Mullins is eager to share his beliefs, but while many artists do so from a sobering perspective, Mullins maintains an affable attitude with a set of songs that provide an easy listening experience, and little demand on the listener. Granted, these dozen songs are intended for true believers, but even those that may prefer the secular over the spiritual might find I Can’t Even Walk Without You Holding My Hand easy to enjoy. It’s not that Mullins suppresses his beliefs. Far from it in fact. However, he does emphasize the joy that comes with giving one’s self to God, and in that way, his conviction becomes contagious. Jesus Is Getting Us Ready for That Great Day and Jesus Is the Rock are so upbeat and energetic, even skeptics might find themselves feeling compelled to simply sing along.
Other tracks entice by emulating more familiar fare. Pass Me Not sounds like Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain given a different title, just as the instrumental take on The Old Rugged Cross readily brings to mind another Gospel standard, Jesus on the Mainline. Of course, there are several standbys as well — Amazing Grace, What a Friend We Have In Jesus, and Just a Closer Walk With Thee being the most prominent — but to Mullins’ credit, he manages to apply his own amiable take on each, subbing gratitude for gravitas and providing the entire album with an instant appeal in the process.
Tyler spent 6 years touring with Larry Sparks & The Lonesome Ramblers on banjo, so he knows his grass. And it shows in his vocal delivery.
If anything, Mullins makes it apparent that albums of a religious nature aren’t only for the devout. He may not be speaking to cynics, but even those that lack devotion may feel free to share in the celebration as well.