Michael Shull,
Swingin' the Gospel
(MCS, 1999)

Michael Shull has a lifetime of musical performance behind him, but in 1995 he heard the call of the Lord when he was introduced to the mountain dulcimer. After listening to his music, I would have to agree that the Lord did, indeed, direct him to this instrument. I grew up listening to Appalachian gospel music and have quite an ear for each instrument. Michael's music is divine! When compared to other Appalachian gospel musicians, he is outstanding. Swingin' the Gospel has become my favorite gospel CD.

If you spread Michaels' CDs in front of you, the covers set the tone for the music. Here is this middle-aged musician in a black vest, white shirt with rolled up sleeves, and black pants (so traditional for church attendance) seated on a rock with his mountain dulcimer in front of a beautiful, little, white church complete with the traditional steeple. That is exactly what you get with this CD! The traditional Appalachian music presented by a down-to-earth Christian who only desires to serve the Lord and spread the gospel. Other CDs reflect fall scenes of this church and graveyard shot from the back corner, waterfalls with boulders and Michael playing as a dove flutters toward his shoulder.

Michael plays the mountain dulcimer, hammer dulcimer and guitar in Swingin' the Gospel. Joining him are Joel Shull on the keyboard, strings and wood flute, Dennis Steele on guitar and bass, Danny Harlow on fiddle, Andrew Gowan on flute and clarinet, and Randy Lucas on banjo. What a combination of instruments and talents! These guys sound as if they have been playing together all their lives. They are in perfect synch with each other. Their harmonizing and backups are incredible! Appalachian music just does not get better than this. I urge everyone to order a copy today! It got me on my feet with arms out-stretched and feet moving. It is uplifting and extremely moving!

The selections included are "Down By the Riverside," "Shall We Gather at the River," "Just a Closer Walk With Thee," "Morning Has Broken," "When They Ring Those Golden Bells," "Come Thy Fount/There Is a Fount," "I've Got the Joy, Joy, Joy/When We All Get to Heaven," "He Leadeth Me/Joyful, Joyful," "Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho," "We Are One In the Spirit/I Will Rise and Go To Jesus," "In the Sweet Bye & Bye" and "Victory In Jesus."

Michael has included a testimony and call to the Lord inside the cover. Here listeners learn how to get saved, along with a prayer of repentance. It is to the point and to the heart!

- Rambles
written by Alicia Karen Elkins
published 8 March 2003

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