Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver / Doyle Lawson

Winding Through Life

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It almost doesn't seem fair -- not only is Doyle Lawson's band arguably the finest in traditional bluegrass, but he seems to be determined to lead the best gospel group as well. Several things set his ensemble apart from the pack. It's not just the consistently high quality of his singers (though that alone would be enough to put Quicksilver in the top rank of gospel groups) -- it's also the group's surprising stylistic variety. On Winding Through Life, they move easily from upbeat bluegrass tunes like "The Lord Will Answer Thee" and "Gladness, Peace and Love" to a more modern country sound on "Just Let Me Fly" and "River of Tears." But most impressive of all is "If Jesus Is There," which sounds like it draws equally on barbershop and shape-note influences, and "Do Right and Come Smiling Thru," which comes squarely from the African-American gospel harmony tradition. "Closer I Must Be" sounds like a Louvin Brothers tune (although it isn't). Everything is delivered with an effortless blend that somehow manages to reconcile the conflicting qualities of creamy smoothness and mountain astringency. Excellent.

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