While many new bluegrass bands try to stretch the genre’s lines as far as they can, there are also quite a few which stick just as hard to the classic sounds which first-generation groups such as Flatt and Scruggs made standard. With their second album, In With the Old, Out With the New, Kevin Pace & the Early Edition stake their claim as one of the latter. This collection of eleven hymns and Gospel tunes has a nice old school sound which fans of traditional bluegrass should enjoy.
The majority of songs here are familiar favorites from the bluegrass Gospel canon, and the band does them justice. There’s an earnest, midtempo This World is Not My Home, with the guitarist contributing his version of Scruggs-style guitar licks, as well as a version of The Old Cross Roads which is well done, but a bit too slow.
Also included are several popular hymns. The album opens with a brisk take on Leaning on the Everlasting Arms, which has nice harmonies on the chorus. Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior has more of an acoustic contemporary Christian sound, with gentle guitar accompaniment. The closing track, Victory in Jesus, begins with a nice a capella chorus, then kicks it into drive for the rest of this spirited song.
Without looking at the liner notes, those unfamiliar with these older songs might find it difficult to tell which songs here are originals and which are covers. Pace has contributed four numbers which are well-written and blend in nicely with the classics. A Man Who Can is one of the best, with its uplifting advice set to an upbeat sound. It has the feel of an uptempo Larry Sparks Gospel piece. Oh Bless His Name is a straightforward a capella number, with a superb vocal arrangement. His Blood Covers All Sin offers the salvation message, urging listeners to realize the seriousness of sin.
The band certainly has the traditional bluegrass style down pat. Their arrangements are, for the most part, very enjoyable, and their harmonies are topnotch. Band members Pace (mandolin, guitar, lead and harmony vocals), Josh Robertson (guitar, lead and harmony vocals), Matthew Arndt (fiddle and harmony vocals), Jim Adams (bass and bass vocals), and Christopher Arndt (banjo) provide listeners with classic bluegrass Gospel done well.