Give Me Jesus

Larry Cordle

MightyCord Records, 2017

http://www.larrycordle.com

REVIEW BY: Curtis Jones

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 08/20/2017

Larry Cordle is a well-respected bluegrass songwriter and performer whose career has now spanned decades. Over the last few years, he seems to have gravitated more and more toward the gospel side of the bluegrass world, with regular appearances on cable’s “American Bluegrass Gospel Show.” A few years back, he issued the absolutely stellar Pud Marcum’s Hangin’, so I was excited to see his latest release, Give Me Jesus.

This collection splits his focus between his own material and songs honoring many of the greats of traditional country gospel music, which thrives in the hills of central Appalachia where Cordle resides. He picks selections from writers like Carl Story and Albert E. Brumley, and then crafts new arrangements of these traditional tunes. He also takes the opportunity to remake some of his own tunes, including “Not Really Gone” from my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Pud Marcum’s Hangin’ complete with rewritten lyrics and lighter instrumental track that resonates better than the original, and an older tune using a country turn of phrase “Lost As A Ball In High Weeds” from back in his Lonesome Standard Time days. 

In sound, this album leans more towards the country gospel rather than bluegrass gospel, but it is still very traditional on most of its tracks – with the exception of the lyrical turnabouts on “The Old Thing’s Walkin’ About,” which tries to blend the country with the modern in its message and marries it to a gospel choir sound.

Standouts on this album include “Lost As A Ball In High Weeds” which, despite the country phrasing that runs the risk of coming off corny, really hits home due to its straightforward message and excellent quartet arrangement. Kudos to Bradley Walker for some stunning bass vocal work. Meanwhile, “I’ll Meet You In The Morning” is perfect in its a cappella arrangement reminiscent of many mountain church houses. The title track “Give Me Jesus” is another traditional track, which is so simple it could have been written in ten minutes, but Cordle’s arrangement does it justice.  

Other tracks feel like something is missing, such as the traditional “Two Coats.” Many artists have done this one, but Cordle’s approach doesn’t quite reach the heights others have achieved on this track. Similarly, “The Old Ship Of Zion” is a tried and true song that crosses well between the Southern and bluegrass gospel genres but lacks something here, which prevents it from becoming a great track.

While not up to the caliber of his previous effort, Give Me Jesus still holds up as a solid all-gospel effort.

Rating: B-

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