REVIEW BY: Curtis Jones
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 06/10/2012
Paul Williams is one of the last remaining high lonesome tenors from the early days of bluegrass. As a young man, he began his career in the 1950s with secular bluegrass groups, first with the Lonesome Pine Fiddlers and later as part of the Sunny Mountain Boys band who backed up the “King Of Bluegrass” Jimmy Martin. For 25 years, Williams retired from the bluegrass scene and worked for the U.S. Postal Service, but he burst back onto the scene in 1997 with Ain't God Good . Ever since, he has steadily cranked out several good albums and been a powerful mainstay of bluegrass gospel music circuit.
2011’s Satisfied builds on the success that Williams has accumulated since his return to bluegrass music. In addition to skillful mandolin work, he also demonstrates powerful songwriting as well. Williams writes and chooses songs which have strong biblical and doctrinal foundations, such as “We’ll Go Home Together On The Cloud,” “He Will Call,” and “Paul’s Ministry.” Additionally, the group adds two powerful a cappella tunes that shine: “A Dying Mother’s Prayer” and “Give Me Just A Little More Time,” which is particularly strong. While many Southern and bluegrass gospel songs denote a desire for the afterlife, this song acknowledges the work of the church on earth: to gain converts for the heavenly kingdom.
“Something Got A Hold Of Me” is an old tune that is dusted off for Satisfied. The oldest version of this song that I have seen is one done by the Carter Family in 1941, but it could have been done earlier by other regional groups performing gospel music on the radio in that era. “Something Got A Hold Of Me” speaks exactly to the way a stranger-turned-convert would feel entering a mountain church (like the ones Williams attends and performs in). He would go just to see what was going on, plans to leave the service early, but upon hearing the preaching, and while perhaps still wanting to leave, the drawing power of God pulls him in for salvation. It is a simple song that carries a powerful story.
Satisfied also comes with some fine upbeat bluegrass tracks like the title track and “Somebody Loves Me.” On the whole, it is an enjoyable album that is true east Tennessee bluegrass gospel from a legend that still has his vocal and mandolin chops.