The High Bar Gang – [Album]

Friday, 11 October 2013

The beauty of bluegrass music – when it's played well and not with the intention of packing theaters or stadiums (that music usually gets dubbed 'Americana' these days) – is that it has the potential to be some of the most affecting and gloriously inspirational stuff in all creation. When it comes along for the right reasons, it voices and instrumental timbres in the music can capture a listener's heart as well as his mind and be spiritually moving. That isn't said to imply that the best bluegrass spontaneously creates religious zealots out of those who hear it, simply that the music can fill a listener up and lift even the lowest spirit.

Those who don't think that music can have such a fantastic impact on those who hear it are invited to be proven wrong by Lost & Undone – A Gospel Bluegrass Companion, The High Bar Gang's debut album. It might sound hard to believe, but this record will, by turns, lift listeners up high and bring them to their knees, all with the power of the music the band plays; it is moving.

Listeners will find they're shaken to their cores immediately as the angelic choir of multi-instrumentalists including Rob Becker, Barney Bentall, Wendy Bird, Angela Harris, Colin Nairne, Eric Reed and Shari Ulrich converge and begin elevating everyone within earshot with little more than their voices and acoustic instruments on “Over In The Gloryland”. The sound is beautiful – a truly joyous noise – inspiring and spiritually (not to be confused with 'religiously') elating; when the choral refrain of “I'm gonna get ready” sings out, those who hear it will be unable to stop themselves from doing the same.

After “Over In The Gloryland” puts roots down for Lost & Undone, The High Bar Gang set to firming their grip on the minds of listeners, earnestly. Tracks like “Walking In Jerusalem,” “All My Tears,” “Sinners You Better Get Ready,” “Green Pastures In The Sky” and “Rank Strangers” all play through the bluegrass/faith revival paradigm (praise the almighty, beware of temptation – the lyric sheets mirror the religious bent of the song titles) but, beautifully, listeners are never made to feel as though anyone is trying to convert them; the drive is always to entertain here, and the religious tones remain mild. Because of that, those who maintain a stance of being religiously irreligious (like this writer) are never put off in the slightest by Lost & Undone; in fact by the time The High Bar Gang's cover of Hank Williams' “I Saw The Light” plays out and gently closes the album, I can say from experience that even the sternest non-believers will be ready to go another round through Lost & Undone – it just feels that good to listen and share the joy that the band clearly took in making this music.



Lost & Undone – A Gospel Bluegrass Companion
will be released on October 22, 2013 via True North Records. Pre-order it here on Amazon

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