Richard Thompson offers another of his occasional reviews of recent Gospel bluegrass releases.
Doyle Lawson continues the pattern of releasing alternately a secular CD and then a Gospel album. Help Is On The Way is the latest collection of sacred songs and, if you will forgive the phrase, it’s a baptism of fire for the latest edition of Quicksilver.
This is the first set of Quicksilver recordings that features Alan Johnson (fiddles and bass vocals), Joey Cox (banjo and rhythm guitar), Carl White (bass, piano and vocals) and Josh Swift (Dobro ¬Æ, percussion and harmony vocals). Lawson (mandolin and vocals) and Darren Beachley (guitar and vocals) are the only individuals to feature on earlier Doyle Lawson recordings.
It does not matter though as the standard of performance, the choice of songs and the arrangements are just what we have come to expect from Lawson, who made his mark as a master arranger when with the Country Gentlemen.
What is immediately apparent with this collection of 14 songs is the positive feel to the music and the messages expounded. The opening song, I Know, I Know, with lead sung by Beachley, sets the tone and there isn’t any wavering from the conviction and the joyous nature of the songs and the performances that follow.
Unless my ears deceive me, Beachley and Lawson share the lead vocal duties on 12 numbers and neither falters and the choices as to who sings what is just right. Lawson’s lead on the Odell McLeod ‘oldie’ When The Hand Of God Comes Down and the ensuing The Black Sheep Returned To The Fold illustrate this point.
The swinging Land Of The Dying is yet another powerhouse performance while the title track, sung by the ebullient bass player Carl White, I Won’t Have To Worry Anymore, and Press On O Pilgrim are only slightly less so. Characteristic of these latter two songs is the excellent control of Beachley’s lead vocals. Alan Johnson is to be commended for the excellent bottom end to the up-tempo quartet One Of These Days and the Lawson-led a cappella number He Made It All Right.
Doyle reads the recitation on Keep Your Eyes On Jesus, while other voices harmonize at the beginning and end of this Louvin Brothers’ classic.
Really, there isn’t any weakness that I can find in this collection. The songs are well chosen, coming from the pens of Luther G Presley, the Easter brothers, Dee Gaskin, Fred Rose and newcomers Michael E Read, Randy Swift, Rob Mills and Nancy Carol White as they do.
There is a very full sound throughout, with the harmonies constantly hitting the spot and instrumental arrangements, particularly the use of Dobro ¬Æ, being very effective.
Help Is On The Way is an uplifting and joyous way of bringing the Gospel to the masses. The more I listen to it the more that I think that it is the natural successor to Lawson’s landmark Gospel collection, Rock My Soul.
UPDATE 2:10 p.m. Regarding I Won’t Have To Worry Anymore and Press On O Pilgrim…
We failed to note that these cuts were recorded with Jamie Dailey, Terry Baucom and Mike Hartgrove shortly before they left Quicksilver. Doyle has since apologized for failing to list them in the credits, which he overlooked when the CD was being prepared for release.