Somewhere in Glory
Rural Rhythm Christian
3.5 stars (out of 5)
By Aaron Keith Harris
When the gentle strains of “When the Redeemed Are Gathering In,” led by Sammy Shelor’s banjo and Vanessa Nichols’ delightfully Appalachian voice, kicked off this disc, I was immediately taken back to my grandparents’ little white church house in the Kentucky foothills and to my own home church in Ohio as it was 30 years ago, with the smell of red-backed hymnals rising up as people clapped against them while singing their simple, yet gorgeous, harmony parts.
Vanessa (guitar, lead vocals) is joined by Darron Nichols (mandolin, guitar, vocals) to make up Common Strings, and together with Shelor, they produced this this 12-song, 40-minute effort, which relies heavily on public domain classics like the aforementioned album opener, a banjo-driven romp through “Nothing But the Blood,” a Carter Family-style solo-guitar reading of “Twilight is Fading,” a waltz-time “Paul’s Ministry” featuring some stout fiddle from Mike Hartgrove, and the duo of “Preachin’ by the Roadside” and “The Message of His Coming,” both with catchy clawhammer banjo from Mac Traynham.
One of Vanessa’s prettiest vocals comes, appropriately, on Albert E. Brumley’s “Prettiest Flowers,” while Darron contributes two original tunes that fit right in: “Glorious Power” and “Golden Streets of Home.” The album closes with “The Revelation” with lonesome vocals from Vanessa matched by foreboding fiddle from Hartgrove.
With additional guests like Dale Ann Bradley (harmony vocals), Steve Gulley (harmony vocals), Phil Leadbetter (Dobro) and Brandon Rickman (guitar) playing supporting roles, this is an enjoyable listen for any bluegrass fan and a must-own for fans of this type of gospel singing and playing that is, thankfully, not yet a part of the past.