Michael Shull,
Appalachian Sunday:
Old Time Gospel Instrumentals

(MCS, 2002)

If you mention how well this band plays together, Michael Shull will say God has presented exactly whom they needed at the precise time they needed them. What you will not find among this group is someone taking credit for anything. They give all the glory to the Lord. That is what makes Appalachian Sunday and the other releases by Shull stand out from the crowd.

In this collection, we are treated to a collaboration by Michael Shull on mountain dulcimer, hammer dulcimer and ban-jamer, Jarrod Haning on fiddle, Karin Lyle on autoharp, Mike Clemmer on acoustic bass and Dennis Steele on guitar.

Appalachian Sunday is bluegrass gospel at its finest. These instrumentals range from the slow "Angel Band" to the medium-paced "When the Roll Is Called" to a relatively fast "Will the Circle Be Unbroken." There is something here for every taste and I promise you that you will find yourself tapping your toes or clapping your hands at some point. It is impossible to sit still while listening to this CD. If you are not careful, "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" will have you on your feet buck dancing or clogging. It has all the elements of a great buck dancing tune: fast lead over a slow bass beat, just enough of a broken rhythm and hesitations for a strong breakdown, alternating punched style with smoothness. I highly recommend this tune on repeat for an exhilarating cardiac workout!

"Old Time Religion/Little Brown Church" begins with a broken rhythm, bounces along with staccato style and dramatically demonstrates this band's tremendous talent with a complete changeup. Jarrod swings the fiddle into violin mode for the lead, before the band comes back to the staccato style.

Other tracks are "Never Grow Old," "Life's Railway To Heaven," "The Unclouded Day," "Wayfaring Stranger," "Kneel at the Cross," "Keep On the Sunnyside," "Over In the Gloryland," "Give Me the Roses," "Precious Lord" and "Where the Soul Never Dies."

I grew up with these tunes and instruments. I have played almost all of the tunes on the trombone and am extremely aware of their composition. Throughout this CD, I tried diligently to find anything wrong -- even one slightly off-key note or a note that falls one-64th behind time. I can find nothing negative to say. These folks are splendid! They are absolutely perfect together as a unit and individually when rotating the lead. Their harmony and backups are out of this world! God may have a choir of angels, but I think a lot of people are going to be surprised when they get up there and find another group of angels buck dancing to the music of Michael Shull!

Every household should have a copy of this CD. This is praising the Lord as He should be praised ... with joy, energy and exuberance!

- Rambles
written by Alicia Karen Elkins
published 21 June 2003

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