The Day We Learn To Fly

Volume Five

Mountain Fever, 2014

REVIEW BY: Curtis Jones


As a fan of bluegrass music, I am surprised that Volume Five had escaped my attention for so long. I have heard several of their tunes on the radio and kept seeing the name pop up in various blogs I read, but I was blown away when I decided to take a listen to their gospel album, which led to voracious listening of everything they have ever produced. The band’s fiddler, Glen Harrell, pulled the group together in 2008, and the group exemplifies everything that demonstrates a breakout band – excellent vocals, strong musicianship and great songs. I’ve argued before that musicianship and attention to musical detail is what separates the Friday evening jam session musicians from the ones who can actually make money at this gig. These guys have it. Jeff Partin on guitar and Harry Clark on mandolin tear it up while making it look easy, while Patton Wages has some great banjo skills and Chris Williamson is a rock solid bass. Volume Five hits it right on the head.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Having already done three secular albums, this 2014 offering was an all gospel project. This is in keeping with a strong tradition in bluegrass music to perform both sides of the coin. The Day We Learn How To Fly is a great mix of spiritual heights and Calvinist lows of forgiveness and the human condition. The title track is a strong opener, held in a minor key, but it is soaring in its description of the coming resurrection. "When We Are Called To Meet Him" follows in a similar vein, and has some great backing guitar action. "Color Between The Lines" is a joyful depiction of childhood memories of Sunday School and innocence. "What Could I Do" is an upbeat assessment of what one can do for his maker.

As for the slower tracks, "Miracle Today" is a powerful tune about one who is turning to the Lord after years of ignoring him and yet still finds mercy. "Nothing But The Water" is a progressive a cappella track that is good but not as strong as some of the other songs here. There are also two tracks that focus on family members, in keeping with a long held tradition in bluegrass of elevating mom and/or dad to the same level as Jesus. "Daddy Doesn't Pray Anymore" is a sappy tune about how great daddy was, and inevitability he isn't praying anymore because he is dead.  "Thanks Again" is a thank you/tribute to parents and all they do. It doesn't mention God at all, though, making it the only secular song on the album.

The Day We Learn How To Fly somehow straddles the bluegrass gospel genre, but in some ways, this disc also has tinges of contemporary Christian music in the musicality and lyrical choices. This bodes well for the group's appeal and for the genre as a whole. Volume Five has a great record of secular tracks and has now created a whole slew of solid gospel tunes. Keep an eye out for more from them.

Rating: A-

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