Look to the Light: Songs of Faith from the Pen of Rick Lang
Rural Rhythm Christian
4.5 stars (out of 5)
By Larry Stephens
Ask most classic country music fans to name five songs recorded by Merle Haggard and they can answer in a snap. Ask them to name five songs that Haggard wrote and they’ll start scratching their heads, but a search at BMI shows four hundred songs attributed to him. (The true count is actually less than that as the list has some obvious duplications, but there’s still well over two hundred discrete songs listed there.) “Tennessee Waltz” has been recorded by a bevy of artists including Patti Page, Sam Cooke and Emmylou Harris, but who composed it?
So, it’s not a surprise that Rick Lang is not a household name even in bluegrass circles. He has been around the bluegrass music scene for two decades and his songs have been recorded by groups like IIIrd Tyme Out, the Lonesome River Band, Front Range and Southern Rail. “Look To The Light” is the product of Lang, Jesse Brock and John Miller and showcases fourteen of Rick’s compositions.
A major accomplishment of producers Brock and Miller was bringing together the talented lineup to make these recordings. They lent their own talents and recruited well known performers like Russell Moore (IIIrd Tyme Out), Dale Perry (now back with Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver), Ron Stewart (now with The Boxcars), Michael Cleveland, Junior Sisk and Dale Ann Bradley – and that’s just half the stars on this CD. Accomplished musicians and singers all, just a glance at this lineup and you know the CD has to be good.
Even the best singers need good material. Every old farm boy and girl knows you can’t make good hay out of a field of weeds. If you like traditional bluegrass gospel (not that any of the songs strays far from traditional) you’ll enjoy Junior Sisk’s renditions of “I’ve Been Redeemed” and “His Loving Care.” “Sailing On,” with Russell Moore singing lead, features Dale Ann Bradley and Dale Perry (bass vocals) on harmony and is a nice, upbeat tune to close out the CD. The longer you listen the more you realize there isn’t a cut to be heard that isn’t really, really good. As an added bonus the insert includes song lyrics as well as notes from Lang about the inspiration for each song. The only thing I would change is making the harmony vocals stand out more. The harmony singers are there and they are great singers, but they barely stand out above the instruments. Bluegrass is famous for its great harmonies (“Eternity Has Two” as an example) and I would enjoy a different mix on those.
If you like bluegrass gospel music then this is a CD you can’t afford to miss.