THE SOWELL FAMILY PICKERS
As with many family bands, the Sowells are, at their core, a gospel bluegrass band. That does not necessarily mean that all of their material is gospel bluegrass. They follow what seems to be a rising trend in bluegrass, one in which bands with gospel orientations mix gospel tunes with inspirational secular songs and even with an occasional instrumental. The result is an 11-track recording on which six are definitely in the gospel camp. They include the two songs that open the album, “Trust In The Lord” and “Nothin’ Can Hold Me Here,” both upbeat numbers with catchy melodies and solid rhythm. Also on the gospel side are “Three Wooden Crosses” and “That’s My Child (And She Is Free).” On those, it’s the message that is upbeat, even as the stories themselves are somewhat tragic and tense. All four of those are highlight tracks.
By contrast are the secular tunes. “This Old House” is a slow, memory song about the sale of the homestead, followed by a rewrite of “Thank God I’m A Country Boy” titled “Thank God For The Country Store.” Ralph Stanley’s instrumental “Clinch Mountain Backstep” is followed a bit later by “The Devil Went Down To Georgia,” and then closing out is the Alabama classic “Mountain Music.” Of those, the latter three stand out best.
If anyone has any questions about the picking ability of the Sowell Family, they should listen to both “Clinch Mountain Backstep” and “The Devil Went Down To Georgia.” Both are played with authority and creativity. “Mountain Music,” along with “Trust In The Lord” and “That’s My Child,” show the band at their vocal best. All in all, this is a solid, spirited recording. (Sowell Family, P.O. Box 229, Hempstead, TX 77445, www.thesowellfamilypickers.com.)BW