Officially, the Kenny & Amanda Smith Band have dubbed themselves as performing bluegrass band but to me they sound like a good mixture bluegrass and the way country music was sung in the fifties and early sixties. For those less familiar with bluegrass the roots of the genre are intertwined with the roots of modern day country music. The band’s recent CD Tell Someone features some outstanding vocal performances, even better musicians and good ole gospel lyrics.
You may be old enough to remember the Carter Family or the duo of Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs. Perhaps you remember the early part of the movie “Walk The Line” or have browsed through the vinyl archives. If you are familiar with that period in the history of music then the Kenny & Amanda Smith Band will welcome back and flood of good memories.
“I’ve Got More To Go To Heaven For”, features splendid banjo picking by Jason Davis. The song moves quickly and from the very beginning Davis sets the tempo. A warm underlying bassline is established by bassist Zachary McLamb. The two Smiths and Wayne Winkle (low-tenor) combine for an unblemished three-part harmony.
Bluegrass music has always been the story of the people and the land and the music on the CD Tell Someone is no different. The lyrics paint word pictures of real life situations perhaps none as poignant as Craig Market’s words to “Mary Had A Little Boy”. The ballad chronicles the life of a boy whose mother would not take him to Sunday School while all the other children attended. At the beginning of the song the boy’s soul is described as “white as snow”, but as the song progresses Mary (the mother) notices his soul was turning dingy gray. When the boy’s soul finally turns “an ugly black”, Mary goes to Sunday School and “stays for the preaching too”, but to no avail. The preacher reminds her of the warning he issued many years earlier.
The song “Mary Had A Little Boy” issues a warning to all parents. The song however should also encourage those parents who have sown the seeds of the gospel and whose children have strayed for a season. There is hope that the message will be recalled.
I am a big Alan Jackson fan and I by no means wish to compare Kenny Smith’s vocals to the country music great. I do think however if you enjoy Jackson’s music you will enjoy “Angels Calling At My Door”. Daniel Carwile’s melancholic fiddle applies somber brushstrokes to this canvass.
Steve Mowery’s “One More Chance” has the same southern gospel beat and flair that made the Statler Brothers a fan favorite for so many years. During our decade, the Parker Trio signaled a renaissance in southern gospel music until the premature death of Warren Parker last January 7th.
Bluegrass and Southern Gospel music have long been considered regional or niche music markets. Established artists such Alison Krause, the Del McCoury Band and Alabama have introduced new fans to the music. Bluegrass and Southern Gospel music often feature great harmonies, excellent musicians and tremendous vocals.
Tell Someone is true to the title, as the words of many of the songs on this album leave no doubt that there is only one way to heaven and it is through Jesus Christ.
Copyright © 2006 Joe Montague, exclusive rights reserved. This material may not be redistributed without prior written permission from Joe Montague. Joe Montague is an internationally published freelance journalist / photographer.