Don Rigsby & Midnight Call - The Voice of GodDON RIGSBY & MIDNIGHT CALL

Rebel Records CD1831

Presenting a program of mature, thoughtful gospel music, Don Rigsby touches a variety of the styles within that genre. The first two tracks are quartets, the second is a cappella, each comparing favorably with anything ever recorded. A Tom T. Hall entry comes next, “Then Y’Ain’t,” which calls out the pious for their shortcomings. The writing on this project is very good. Larry Cordle wrote the title song, and Skip Ewing wrote the interesting “Gospel According To Luke,” a story that has been told before, but rarely better in song. “I Am An Orphan Child” is like the song associated with Gillian Welch, but different, with writer credits to both Welch and Rigsby.

This project has the feel of a more contemporary Christian recording. Rigsby is not afraid to step away from the bluegrass mold. “Mary Magdalene” has a folky edge to the arrangement, lending power to Rigsby’s duet with Beth Castle, telling a wellknown story from a new angle. His reading of Phil Wiggins’ “Forgiveness” is pure gospel blues; Rory Block’s fine slide guitar and vocals take it down a sacred alley. The stark solo vocal “The Lord Will Provide” shows the immense power of Rigsby’s vocals.

Paul Craft’s ironic “Charged With Being A Christian,” with its Travis-style guitar from Dale Vanderpool, is another standout in a field of strong material. The great vocals and the arrangements that set up each song do not necessarily follow the strict bluegrass format. One of the greatest accomplishments a musician can attain is to produce an album that is a complete statement. Rigsby has done that with this project.

The backup musicians include the late Gerald Evans in what might be among his final work. His fiddling is not to be missed. Rigsby plays a wide range of instruments on this project himself. The bedrock of the band, Dale Vanderpool, Robert Maynard, and Clyde Marshall on banjo, bass, and guitar, respectively, all shine throughout the project.This album goes well beyond the obvious and explores the diversity that is modern gospel music. (Rebel Records, P.O. Box 7405, Charlottesville, VA, 22906, RCB