Prime Cuts: Inside, The Miracle in Me, When Jesus Came Down
Overall Grade: 4.5/5
Kudos are in order to StowTown Records. In a genre that's over saturated with old fashioned four-part male quartets, StowTown gives stir to this pool of stagnant waters with the signing of Southern Raised. With bluegrass, Celtic, classical, country and even vocal jazz from the sepia tone era of Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra mixed into their rootsy Southern Gospel sound, Southern Raised has placed their stamp on their own sound. Thus, if you are looking for Gospel music that has a nostalgic ring yet still sounding refreshing, you don't have to look farther than this record. Though "Another World" is the quartet's debut record for StowTown, it's their seventh album in their own entire discography.
Southern Raised, a vocal and instrumental group comprised of sisters, Lindsay (bass), Sarah (banjo), and Emily (mandolin and violin), along with their younger brother Matthew (guitar), has received multiple nominations in recent years: Singing News Fan Awards, Diamond Awards, Front Porch Fellowship and SPBGMA Midwest awards, Band of the Year, Vocal Group of the Year and Christian Country Album of the Year.
The album gets a kicking start with the bluegrass burner, "Up All Night." Framed with some exquisitely pickings on the fiddle and the mandolin, "Up All Night" is about not being incumbent by worries knowing that we have a Father who cares for the sparrows and who doesn't slumber. "Instead" is a perfect specimen of sublime song writing. While many a lesser writer can write about God's grace, Emily, Wayne Haun and Jeff Bumgardner give us vivid examples one after another how God amazes us with his grace, making the whole notion of grace pop out with a three-dimensional perspicuity.
Borrowing a page from C. S. Lewis is the title track "Another World." With a Celtic-ish coating wrapped around it, the song is a good apologetic number that speaks of how our dissatisfaction in this life points us to the next. The song is lyrically riveting. If you think it's a challenge to inject a visceral component into a bluegrass track, "Miracle in Me" will prove you wrong. Don't miss "When Jesus Came Down." This is the album's show stealer: featuring seamless harmonies from the siblings with that old jazzy standards profundity, this is Alison Krauss meeting Bing Crosby.
The siblings have had been raised on classic music, therefore it is not surprising that they have included the instrumental "Beethoven's 5th." However, sticking a classic instrumental piece in the middle of a Gospel record sounds out of place. Further, the desultory "Beautiful Moments in Time" which precedes "Beethoven's 5th" doesn't help. In what is an excellent record, the middle of the album sank to its nadir with these two misplaced tracks. If they were to be tagged at the end of the record, it would have made the record flow a tad better.