Friday, November 16, 2012

Sunday Mornin’ Singin’ LIVE! - Rhonda Vincent




Bluegrass and gospel, a marriage made in heaven

Sunday Mornin’ Singin’ LIVE!
Artist: Rhonda Vincent (www.rhondavincent.com)
Label: Upper Management Music (www.uppermanagementmusic.com)
Length: 16 tracks/56:55 minutes

On Sunday Mornin’ Singin’ LIVE! Rhonda Vincent marries bluegrass and gospel like “glove fits hand, as key fits lock, as domino fits domino” (F. W. Boreham). What she has joined, no one can separate. It is a marriage made in heaven for that is often the inspiration. World weary sentiments long for that ultimate repose. Relaxed music that winds like a restful stream through the countryside increases the consolation.

The power is in the gospel truths that populate these songs. They hearken to another era, a simpler time when people found greater comfort in anthems of faith. It might seem overly sentimental to moderns or postmoderns but that misses the timeless messages and the simple beauty.

There is joy here. Acoustic guitar, banjo, mandolin, upright bass and more combine for happy sounds for heaven bound pilgrims. It’s nothing but stringed instruments and voices without a trace of percussion. Recording this live in Vincent’s hometown of Greentop, MO at the Greentop Methodist Church adds to the pristine quality. Dignified applause and occasional brief stage banter breakup the songs.

Lovers of bluegrass will find every pace and style. “I Feel Closer to Heaven Everyday” is the rousing opening that gives each instrument a brief chance to make an introduction. Homely wisdom meets with biblical stories on slow and fast tempos. Further variation is added by a couple of a cappella numbers and beautiful interpretations of two hymns, “Just As I Am” and the closing “Old Rugged Cross.” The latter were the only familiar songs. The “Old Rugged Cross” includes brief audience participation where the instruments are momentarily silenced, so that all one hears our voices being lifted to God.

A sublime moment comes when Vincent sings, “God every day I fall short of your glory. Please help me to be more like him.” It’s a monument to a foundational truth.

Occasionally, Vincent’s voice is a little overpowering, but it serves to show that it is a strong instrument. The musicianship is stellar. According to the label’s promotional information, Vincent and her band, The Rage, are the most awarded group in Bluegrass Music, with over 80.

Play this on Sunday morning or at any time and feel a little closer to heaven.
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