In my Roots Music column today, I advance the local roots shows and review the new album from Dr. Ralph Stanley A Mother’s Prayer now available on Rebel Records. It is a massive gooder- don’t believe anyone who tells you that Ralph no longer has ‘it.’ If his is the last voice I hear in this life, I’ll leave a happy man.
http://tinyurl.com/3u9adre will get you to the column and review.
Originally published in my Roots Music column in the Red Deer Advocate, April 22, 2011
Ralph Stanley A Mother’s Prayer Rebel Records
At 84, Ralph Stanley’s voice recalls a previous time, a time that many of us- despite our reading, research, and listening- cannot imagine.
Stanley is as mountain as rock and his faith is as steadfast; he never sounds more natural as when searching for life’s truths in songs of worship.
Celebrating 40 years recording for Rebel, with his latest recording the patriarch of contemporary Appalachian music goes to the true roots of his music to explore sacred songs and unadorned ballads.
Some of songs may have been brought to North America by settlers. These ancient tunes- “Prince of Peace” and “Are You Washed in the Blood of the Lamb”- are the spine of the album, supporting the wonderful music surrounding them.
Ballads tell stories of fateful fires (“Come All Ye Tenderhearted”) and errant sons (“A Mother’s Prayer”), and these compelling tales- with faith at their core- are sure to appeal to all bluegrass fans. Stanley has the rare ability- like Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard- to make such stories sound as though they were pulled from his own experiences.
Stanley’s Clinch Mountain Boys, as they always do, support and complement their legendary leader. Select tracks have fire in their instrumentation (“He Suffered for My Reward,” “Let Him Into Your Heart,” and especially “That Home Far Away”) where elsewhere (“Life Him Up,” “That’s All”) the framing provided is subtle enough to almost be missed.
For those who can think of nothing finer than a cappella Stanley, a trio of such numbers is included including “John the Revelator” and “That Wonderful Place.” A few of the songs, including “What Kind of Man,” have previously been recorded by Stanley with a couple new songs presented here for the first time.
What sounds sweeter than bluegrass gospel? In the hands and voice of Ralph Stanley, bluegrass gospel seldom sounds more sincere and enjoyable.
As always, thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. Support live music. Buy an album. Donald