After nearly 30 years together one might expect a band to lean to the formulaic or standards; on their latest, The Churchmen do neither. Instead, the song list includes tunes from the likes of Donna Ulisse, Thomm Jutz and four numbers by the group's own banjo player Carroll Arnn. The energy level and original arrangements are as fresh as any group out there today.
Title title track covers the hard driving bluegrass requirement nicely, with "Follow Me" an equally uptempo number with excellent harmony singing that leans closer to a southern gospel sound, were it not for the prominent banjo. All of the players here are best in class without being flashy, making this a true ensemble effort.
Splitting genre hairs matters less on a gospel release than does the lyrical content, however, and it's here that the album delivers. Opening number "Alone On A Hill" tells the story of Jesus in several vignettes, ending on the titular hill of Calvary; "The Good Samaritan" is a Blue Highway-style arrangement of the well-known parable. "Time To Give Our Country Back To God" is a timely, topical tune that references our current situation and makes the titular demand succinctly and seriously.
Gospel music, especially in bluegrass circles, can often fall victim to standards and sanctimony; The Churchmen continue to find ways to present original gospel numbers with joy and conviction befitting their faith.