Jacob Underwood’s solo projects have always been centered around a theme. His debut album, The Banjo Files, captured his prowess on the five string, while 2020s As Time Goes By demonstrated his creative bluegrass interpretations of 1930s-1950s pop hits. Underwood’s third and latest release, My Hope Is In The Lord, focuses on the spiritual side of his music.
While Jacob does play multiple instruments and sings most of the vocals on this recording, he’s also surrounded himself with first rate talent. Acclaimed vocalist Paul Brewster lends his indisputable tenor to the title track, My Hope Is In The Lord, as well as The Key To Heaven and I’d Rather Have Jesus. Jacob is also joined by fiddlers Ron Stewart and Tim Crouch, Justin Moses on dobro, Matt Wallace on upright bass, Tim McDonald on piano, and Jonathan Hunt on drums for selected tracks. There’s also family representation on this project as Underwood’s father, Greg, and sister, Emily, make contributions to a few tracks.
My Hope Is In The Lord isn’t just a bluegrass gospel recording by any means. Each of the songs vary in terms of style and arrangement. He Keeps Me Singing is performed with traditional bluegrass instrumentation while There’s Something About That Name has more of a southern gospel flavor to it. There’s a great sense of variety all throughout.
The majority of the songs contained on this project are traditional pieces straight out of the hymn book. Nonetheless, Jacob and his fellow musicians perform them in new and fresh ways. ‘Tis so Sweet To Trust In Jesus features excellent fiddling from Tim Crouch, while Jesus Paid It All contains smooth vocals from Underwood and great instrumental performances from Justin Moses. I Will Sing of the Mercies of the Lord is one of two tracks that shows Jacob’s ability to play the cross picking mandolin style pioneered by Jesse McReynolds. The other track featuring this is The Old Rugged Cross. Underwood presents this familiar favorite as a smooth instrumental piece.
The most noteworthy tracks on this release are the originals penned by Underwood. The Key To Heaven is definitely in the Southern gospel vein, but it conveys a great message about the symbolism of Christ’s crucifixion on the cross. Blessed Savior, performed in a similar vein to the bluegrass gospel of Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, details one’s daily walk with the Lord.
My Hope Is In The Lord is a solid effort. Whether you’re a fan of bluegrass or southern gospel, Jacob Underwood has released a project in which theres’ something for all to enjoy.