Donna Ulisse - Holy Waters

Donna Ulisse - Holy Waters


Hadley Music Group

Holy Waters is singer/songwriter Donna Ulisse’s third release since moving, in 2007, to the bluegrass genre from the country genre. As the name implies, it is a gospel recording, one that includes 13 tracks, of which Ulisse wrote or cowrote 12. Carter Stanley’s moving “Who Will Sing For Me?” is the one cover and a good one. The support is spare, as would befit a Stanley tune and as dictated by the lyrics, but Ulisse has chosen to give it a wash of contemporary production that fills all the empty space. In doing so, she has managed to recast a classic and still make it easily the most memorable track on the entire recording.

“Caney Creek To Canaan Land,” “To My Soul I Do,” and “My Jesus” make approaches to the level of Carter’s song, but do not match it. They settle at a just a notch below. “Caney Creek…,” with its abrupt attentionfreezing stop at the front of the chorus, opens the album with a strong beat and a good message. “To My Soul I Do,” a couple tracks later, is a slow, modal tune that finds Ulisse’s vocals paired with solo banjo in the opening. Full band support gradually enters, building in intesity, before releasing to a nice fade of fiddle and banjo, keeping in step with the old-time flavor of the tune. Closing the recording is “My Jesus,” a slow, graceful song on which Ulisse’s vocals are reminiscent of Dolly Parton.

Holy Waters is a likeable album of well-written gospel, supported by a strong cast of Keith Sewell, Andy Leftwich, Scott Vestal, Byron House, and Rob Ickes. Having some additional songs that stay in the ear, as does the Stanley tune, would have made it even better. (Hadley Music Group, 1029 17th Ave., Nashville TN 37212, BW