Gonna Sing, Gonna Shout – Bluegrass Gospel from the Pen of Rick Lang wastes no time sinking its sly country hooks into our soul with Dave Adkins’ performance of “Thinkin’ Outside the Box,” a roaring bluegrass swinger that slaps us with faith-riddled lyrics that rise from the darkness and quickly absorb every inch of space within the stereo. High Road follows up the opening rack with “Heaven’s Back Yard,” which benefits strongly from producer Jerry Salley’s high definition sound work but would probably be just as striking all by itself in an acoustic, non-studio setting. Marty Raybon and Salley find Larry Stephenson and Josh Swift for the frolicking “I See God” before we dive straight into The Whites and their embracive “Don’t Tune Him Out,” which lyrically picks up where the former left off and keeps Gonna Sing, Gonna Shout moving at a brisk pace.
Jerry Salley steps up to the microphone with “The Back of the Church” alongside Brandon Rickman and Bradley Walker, spinning an elegiac story of finding God in the most unlikely of circumstances. As it fades into the ethers, Claire Lynch joins the lineup and Josh Swift replaces Walker for “Gonna Sing, Gonna Shout,” which aptly captures the essence of the album inside of a three and a half minute fiddle ballad. Walker returns to the fold with “Henry Clayton Parker,” which also ushers in the first appearance of Larry Cordle, who stays in the background but adds his own color beside his countrymen. “You don’t have to be inside the church when you’ve got the church in you” they tell us, and never have the words been quite as literal as they are amongst this set of expressive ballads and breakdowns.
It would be hard to picture this album without the contribution provided by The Cox Family in “There Will Be Singing,” which as its title implies follows a heavenly chorus made up of celestial voices fit to perform before the angels. It’s a surprisingly understated tune next to Raybon’s “I’ve Read the Book,” but next to Kenny and Amanda Smith in “They Were Fisherman” it’s one of the more elaborately conceived tracks on the record. “They Were Fisherman” has the feel of an archaic hymn with the style of something a little more contemporary, which in my opinion ironically summarizes the aesthetical narrative of Gonna Sing, Gonna Shout better than any other track.
Larry Cordle clashes with Salley, Larry Stephenson and Josh Swift for a melodic showdown in “Sunday Morning Gospel Jubilee” before we conclude the album with the Dave Adkins reprisal “There is a Light,” which brings us full circle and draws the curtains on what can only be described as a cinematic homage to bluegrass’ longstanding kinship with gospel music. Through the words and music of Rick Lang, these artists prove that modern country music can still unite with elements of worship and faith without becoming immersed in political agendas and the pressures of big label-bottom lines. I highly recommend audiences of all beliefs give Gonna Sing, Gonna Shout the listen that it deserves – while it may center on a religious premise, its personality is created through the substance of its sonic depth, and not just the inspiration behind its commanding prose.