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Forbes Family

Forbes Family Treasury Volume I – 2015 (Rebel)

Reviewed by Larry Stephens

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This is some of the prettiest gospel music you'll ever hear. Billed as "bluegrass" gospel, they would be welcome on any bluegrass stage, but the bluegrass tag comes from the inclusion of a banjo (Homer Forbes) in the instruments. You'll also hear a mandolin and guitar (Jay Forbes or Tracy Keenan). Sister Lori Forbes Slate is credited with bass. Lisa Forbes Roberts is the primary lead singer but the four trade vocal spots in the songs.

The instrumental work is okay, but it's not the focus of these cuts. The focus is on the singers, including several a cappella numbers. Their individual voices are excellent, while their harmony is some of the best you'll ever hear. If familiar with the Legendary Marshall Family, you'll hear a strong resemblance. Marshall Family member David Marshall appears on two of the cuts, "Lord, Stay Near" (volume 2) and "Two Roads," (volume 1 and composed by him).

After releasing some regional records made on their own, the Forbes Family was brought to Rebel by the Easter Brothers, a major group in their own right. The Forbes' released four LPs on the label before disbanding in the '80's because of their young and growing families. They came back together in the mid '90's to play some shows, but there is no indication that they still make appearances. That's a shame. Each of these compilation discs contains three previously unreleased songs.

Listen to "The Old Ship of Zion," "You Never Mentioned Him To Me" and "I Just Want To Thank You Lord" or "Sleeping In The Grave" and you'll have to be numb to not be touched. Songs that have been recorded many times in the country and bluegrass fields include "Satan's Jeweled Crown" (a Louvin Brothers and Emmylou Harris favorite) and "A Vision of Mother," recorded and performed innumerable times through the years.

Some numbers are bouncy and upbeat, like "My Rock" and "Sacred Memories," while others are slower and meant to touch the soul. "I Need Jesus" and "Fill My Way Every Day With Love" will surely touch the believers. Now and then there's a cut that makes you wonder what the audio people were thinking. There's so much effect on "Lord, I'll Be Loving You" that they sound like they are in a well, but that's a minor gripe in an otherwise excellent compilation of gospel music.