LakeSide has never wavered from their determination and devotion to their faith. Their astute blend of country music, acoustic instrumentation, bluegrass, and grassicana is wholly immersed in the Gospel tradition. That said, their sound is immersive, engaging and accessible, and though the spiritual sentiment is evidenced throughout, it doesn’t negate the possibility of secular appeal as well.
With a combination of original material, outside contributions and a handful of traditional tunes, the songs on the band’s latest album Moving On contribute to a sound that can be easily embraced through high harmonies, soothing melodies, and articulate execution. It’s a tack they’ve taken since they first began performing together in church in the mid ‘90s, when they went under the name The Gospel Bluegrass Boys, prior to later re-christening themselves as LakeSide in 2007.
Moving On makes their deft ability evident at the outset with the one-two punch of the upbeat and exuberant title track, which is then followed by the similarly effusive One More Time. Other tracks — the contemplative ballad What A Day That Will Be and Thom Jutz’s sobering Somedays I feel Like David in particular — temper the energy but not the enthusiasm, ensuring that the commitment to their cause remains consistent throughout. Likewise, their effusive take on the time-honored classic, I Saw the Light, stays true to the tone and temperament of Hank Williams’ original, with mandolin and banjo reaffirming the bluegrass template Williams hinted at early on. So too, LakeSide’s cover of the ageless Gospel standard, Where the Spirit Never Dies, echoes the unbridled devotion the song has illuminated throughout the ages.
The band — Greg Blankenship (mandolin, vocals), Lucas Blankenship (cajon, vocals), Jackie Cummings (bass, vocals), John Robert Freels (banjo, vocals), and Walt Williamson (guitar, vocals) — maintain their earnest intent so well in fact, that even a deeply spiritual song such as The Blood could find an atheist or agnostic singing along in, strictly in deference to its compelling conviction. So too, the ballad A Sinner’s Prayer, which follows two numbers later, is so soothing and satisfying that those aforementioned skeptics might be encouraged to convert. Well, maybe. The ringing refrain and precise picking shared in the album’s closing track, Power in His Name, might just prove potent enough to actually seal the deal.
Of course, whether or not Lakeside has any potential or possibility to crossover to a non-Christian audience is merely a matter of conjecture. Yet given the divine delivery found here, moving on and attracting additional devotees is indeed a real possibility.