Take Me Lord And Use Me
4.5 stars (out of 5)
By Larry Stephens
There are a couple of varieties of gospel music heard on Take Me Lord And Use Me. There are acoustic gospel songs. “Driving Nails” is a good example. This song has a message about events leading up to the crucifixion. It’s a moving song, a compelling message, well performed, well written with sparse accompaniment by the mandolin, fiddle and resophonic guitar taking turns with fills. The next number, “Just Like The Bible Says,” has more of a bluegrass gospel sound with the banjo playing a prominent role and a long, multi-intsrumental break, much like “Sing, Sing, Sing” even though it was written by Hank Williams. A highlight of this number is a bluesy fiddle break halfway through.
Mike Scott has been around for a number of years. He played with Jim & Jesse 1983-86. For an excellent example of bluegrass gospel (and a much younger Mike Scott) check out this version of “A Beautiful Life.” He worked with a handful of bands before that, including Carl Story and the Rambling Mountaineers. He made guest appearances with Danny Davis and the Nashville Brass and, since, 2001, has been a member of The Reno Tradition. He’s married to Brenda Marshall of the Marshall Family (best noted on Judy Marshall’s web page).
Mike plays banjo on the CD and he’s joined by Jesse Cobb (Infamous Stringdusters) on the mandolin, Ferrell Stowe (Cedar Hill) on resophonic guitar, Jason Carter (Del McCoury) on fiddle and Dennis Crouch on bass. Mike is the lead singer and he’s joined by some of the best singers in the bluegrass/country/gospel business on harmony: Vince Gill, Carl Jackson, Sonya Isaacs, Claire Lynch, Shelton Feazell, Rhonda Vincent and Ricky Skaggs.
All the ingredients are there – does he deliver good music?
You bet he does. He’s included old hymns like “‘Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus,” and “Since I Laid My Burdens Down,” which has been recorded in so many genre (and under so many titles) that it defies pigeonholing. “Is Not This the Land of Beulah” is another old gospel song, here featuring beautiful harmony by Jackson and Lynch (coincidentally a hit by the Isaacs at one time). For a more acoustic (as compared to bluegrass) sound, there’s “Take Me Lord and Use Me,” written by Mike and Brenda. The understated solos by mandolin and resophonic guitar help make this song. It’s not that he strays far afield from bluegrass with songs like this, just that “that’s bluegrass” probably won’t be the first thought you (and my wife) will have when you hear it. Of course, “When The Angels Carry Me Home” can’t be anything but bluegrass since it’s a Bill Monroe tune.
There’s one thing that keeps this set of music from perfection. On some songs, his voice dulls a bit, sounding like he’s just a little outside his comfort range, just a little too low. You can hear it on “‘Tis So Sweet.” Think of the clear sound of a bell as it tolls, then think of that same bell if someone laid a hand on it to dull its ringing. But, you have to listen closely and it’s so minor that it will mostly go unnoticed.
He closes with a Geoff Moore song, “When All Is Said And Done.”
What a great ending.
When the music fades into the past
When my days of life are through
What will be remembered of where I’ve come
When all is said and done
There is food for thought, delivered when the music of this CD is fading away.
It’s obvious he loves and is committed to his Christian walk, and he’s delivered a beautiful CD in support of that.