Just Over in Heaven
Doyle Lawson & QuicksilverSUG-CD-3911
Sugar Hill Records
A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
Following the critical success of 1999's Winding Through Life, which garnered a Grammy nomination, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver's follow-up, Just Over in Heaven, continues on the winning formula that made the prior so successful. With over 20 albums already in their discography, there aren't all that many surprises here, though the current Quicksilver lineup is as well-suited as any previous for Lawson's ambitious use of sophisticated gospel harmonies, incorporating vocal techniques from Primitive Baptist Shape Note singing and African-American gospel-quartet singing. Though the instrumentation is rarely flashy, it need not be, as the mesmerizing four-part harmonies more than steal the show. |
A comparison to another great bluegrass harmony group like Front Range will show the former to be a little more eclectic, though much can be said for Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver's occasional forays into jazzy, Western swing influenced numbers like The Man Upstairs, and almost barbershop quartet harmonies on Listen to the Bells and We Need the Light. As always, Lawson leads his band expertly, trading off lead vocals with Barry Scott and Jamie Dailey, who strongly resembles Ricky Skaggs in his voice's more high and lonesome qualities.
While bands like The Dry Branch Fire Squad are a little more rough around the edges, occasionally singing to the brink of collapse, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver are polished precision personified. The clean picking of I'll Keep on Sailing" and the intricately layered harmony parts on the sing-songy Heaven's Not So Far Away show this band to be as smooth as any in the genre, with Lawson still among the sharpest of bluegrass mandolinists.
Chances are, those looking for hard-driving bluegrass picking might not find Just Over in Heaven all that immediate. However, those looking for an uplifting, inspirational collection by the most sophisticated and talented bluegrass gospel band in the world today need look no further.