Bluegrass music is often seen as a family-friendly genre, with many festivals and other venues making sure to cater to fans of all ages. However, it’s not always true that older fans and musicians can get their children interested in the music.
That’s not a problem for The Harper Family, a Missouri-based band which consists of Gaylon and Katrina Harper, their children Dillon, Dalton, and Hannah, and Dillon’s wife Makeena. The group has recently released their second Gospel project for Pisgah Ridge Records (and fifth overall), Through It All.
The Harpers cover a variety of songs on this ten-track collection, drawing from several popular religious songwriters. The title track, which thanks God for always being there even when we’re facing struggles, comes from well-known Gospel artist Andrae Crouch. While Crouch’s version has hints of blues and soul, the Harpers have given the song a gentle contemporary bluegrass treatment. On the more traditional side of things is A Portion of His Love, written by Sonya and Ben Isaacs. It has a great upbeat sound, with nice banjo work from Gaylon, and finds the singer asking the Lord to share comfort with those who are troubled.
14-year-old Hannah handles lead vocals on both of these songs, as well as on The Judgement, a powerful number about the final judgement day foretold in the Bible. Although Hannah is young, she has a fine, clear voice and could easily hold her own against more established artists. Of course, she’s not the only family member that shows off their vocal talent on the album – everyone but Gaylon takes a turn at singing lead.
Bassist Katrina sings Don’t You Want to Meet Him, which she also wrote. It’s an enjoyable mid-tempo, banjo-guided number that tells the story of Jesus’ healing of the paralyzed man. Another original comes from 20-year-old Dalton, the group’s guitarist. Child of the King is an excellent opening track, and shares the joyful news of Jesus’ resurrection and the hope of salvation. Dalton provides rich, country-style lead vocals that are a bit reminiscent of Josh Williams, while Dillon adds some nice mandolin work to the song.
Other highlights of the album are Pardon Me, I’ve Been Pardoned, a well-done modern traditional number about the forgiveness of sin which features Makeena on lead, and Spirit Wind, which was originally done by popular contemporary Christian group Casting Crowns, and is sung by Dillon here. The Harpers’ version retains the feel of the original, but adds in a few contemporary bluegrass touches.
With Through It All, the Harper Family has provided listeners with a thoroughly enjoyable, solid contemporary bluegrass Gospel album. Gaylon (banjo), Dalton (guitar), Dillon (mandolin), Hannah (fiddle), Katrina (bass), and Makeena (vocals), along with guest resonator guitarist Tim Surrett, who also produced the album, offer fine instrumentation and vocals, and the group has chosen well-written songs that suit their style nicely.
For more information on The Harper Family, visit their website at www.harperfamilymusic.com. Their new album is available from a variety of online music retailers.