Black Music Matters Festival

Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver

Gospel Radio Gems – 1998 (Sugar Hill)

Reviewed by Walter Allread

Recorded with only four voices, two microphones and an acoustic guitar, these 14 "Gems" shine with the purity of an Appalachian mountain stream. Lawson carefully recreates the gospel quartet sounds he grew up with on the radio. It's like turning off the interstate and finding a tiny station piping out forgotten groups like Brown's Ferry Four and the Swanee River Boys.

The music's relative simplicity may challenge those listeners accustomed to the hubbub of modern music, but given time, the modesty of this recording works its charms. The close harmonies and Lawson's clean guitar playing, which imparts a slack-key serenity on songs like "We Should Walk Together," allow these antique Christian hymns to insinuate their singular message with dreamlike mystique.