Black Music Matters Festival

Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver

Kept & Protected – 1997 (Sugar Hill)

Reviewed by Jon Weisberger

It's been almost two decades since Doyle Lawson put together the first edition of Quicksilver, and many of the most exciting contemporary bluegrass stars have passed through its ranks over the years. The latest lineup, featuring new lead vocalist Barry Scott, is one of the strongest, and this excellent all-gospel CD is the proof.

With close to a dozen all-gospel releases to his credit, Lawson has developed a winning formula: take a thoughtful selection of inspirational numbers old and new and arrange them to highlight smooth trios, soulful tenor lead singing, solid timing, and simple yet fresh instrumental work.

As he has often done before, Lawson includes a few a cappella quartets that owe almost at least as much to black gospel styles as to (white) southern gospel. This has all these things in good measure, including a stunningly beautiful version of "I'll Trade the Old Cross (for a Crown)" and strong pairs of songs each from Johnny Masters and Paul Humphrey, former mandolinist and tenor singer with Jimmy Martin.

For those interested in Christian music or in bluegrass, there has been no finer release this year.