Deeper Roots: Where The Bluegrass Grows – Steven Curtis Chapman
In 2013, five-time Grammy winner Steven Curtis Chapman released Deep Roots, an album which featured 12 songs, 5 of which are available on the new Deeper Roots: Where The Bluegrass Grows, released on Chapman’s own New Day distributed-SCSee label. Both albums represent a return to bluegrass, Chapman’s musical roots.
In addition to the 5 songs from Deep Roots, the new album contains eight other songs. The album is comprised of a mixture of well-loved hymns, new versions of Chapman favorites and two new songs. Chapman is joined by Ricky Skaggs, Rascal Flatt’s Gary LeVox and family members on the album, which was produced by Chapman and Brent Milligan.
Below are a few comments about each of the songs:
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Where the Bluegrass Grows – This upbeat new song features banjo, fiddle, acoustic guitar and backing vocals. He comes from a place where the bluegrass grows. He can’t believe all the places he and his guitar have been – from the Grand Old Opry stage to Carnegie Hall. He comes right back home when he hears a banjo.
Dive – This Chapman classic is revitalized with the help of Ricky Skaggs. Skaggs had also joined Chapman on “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” on Deep Roots. The song features some excellent banjo and backing vocals.
‘Til The Blue – This is a new song written by Chapman, Lori McKenna and Barry Dean. It features Gary LeVox of Rascal Flatts on vocals. This is a beautiful song, featuring acoustic guitar. It’s a song about helping someone going through a difficult time. There are no words to say or answers to give to the questions they are asking. But the friend is there to help carry them through the difficult time.
‘Til the blue returns to your sky
‘Til the laughter returns to your eyes
I’ll be right here to cry with you
And right here to give you a song
To help you go on
Until you’re strong
Cinderella – This Chapman classic was previously available on Deep Roots.
Victory in Jesus – This hymn features Chapman’s father, Herb Chapman Sr., and brother, Herb Chapman Jr.
Great is Thy Faithfulness – This hymn features Chapman’s father, Herb Chapman Sr., and brother Herb Chapman Jr.
My Redeemer is Faithful and True – This Chapman classic was previously available on Deep Roots.
How Great Thou Art – This hymn, featuring Chapman’s daughter-in-law Jillian Edwards Chapman, was previously available on Deep Roots.
Life is Like a Mountain Railroad – This classic hymn, featuring Chapman’s father, Herb Chapman Sr., and brother, Herb Chapman Jr., was previously available on Deep Roots.
I’ll Fly Away – This classic hymn features good backing vocals, banjo and fiddle.
Without Him – This classic hymn features Chapman’s father, Herb Chapman Sr., and brother Herb Chapman Jr.
Be Still and Know – This Chapman classic, featuring Chapman’s son Caleb Chapman, was previously available on Deep Roots.
I’d Rather Have Jesus – This classic hymn features Chapman’s father, Herb Chapman Sr.
The Eclipse Sessions – John Hiatt
The Eclipse Sessions is 66-year-old John Hiatt’s first album since 2014’s excellent Terms of My Surrender, and 23rd studio album overall. The album, one of the best of the year, was recorded at Kevin McKendree’s home studio at his farm outside of Nashville over four days in the summer of 2017 that included the August 21st solar eclipse. Hiatt recorded the album as part of a trio comprised of guitar, Patrick O’Hearn on bass and long-time drummer Kenneth Blevins. McKendree, who produced the album, added occasional organ, while his 16-year-old son, Yates McKendree, played additional guitar and engineered the album. Hiatt has said that Yates was their secret ingredient. His guitar playing is a definite highlight on the album. Hiatt has said that The Eclipse Sessions feels like the final part of a trilogy that includes 1987’s Bring the Family and 2000’s Crossing Muddy Waters.
Below are a few comments about each of the songs on the album:
Cry to Me – The opener begins with acoustic guitar and features piano, organ and has an excellent guitar solo. She can cry to him, though he’s probably going to let her down. He promises not to keep her down.
All the Way to the River – The song speaks of cowardice and courage needed to leave town. How is she going to get through this night? Dirty Nashville is her home. The song features acoustic guitar, drums, organ and a nice guitar solo.
Aces Up Your Sleeve – On this sad song, Hiatt is accompanied on acoustic guitar, bass, drum and organ. The song is about a former lover who is now with someone else. It features a nice guitar solo mid song. Key lyric: “The queen of hearts has shown her face, she wants you to believe you were never meant to have aces up your sleeve”.
Poor Imitation of God – This rocker features some excellent guitar, including a mid-song solo. He can do the devil in his sleep but he’s a poor imitation of God.
Nothing in My Heart – This song features acoustic guitar, drums and a nice organ solo mid-song. Hiatt offers a gruff vocal as he sings about a former lover who wanted the better man. There’s nothing in his heart, there’s just enough of him and the darkest part of his heart to hide his love away. He has no feelings bad or good. No pain and no despair, there’s nothing there.
Over the Hill – This song starts with acoustic guitar, and builds with organ, drums and some excellent guitar from Yates McKendree. He sings about the aging process, indicating “I’m long in the tooth, and what can I say, I’ve taken huge bites of life and I ate the bones”. She mourns for the way that things might have been. She can have him, but he’s over the hill.
Outrunning My Soul – This song is driven by a guitar and electric piano beat, and features a nice electric piano solo mid-song. She’s outrunning his soul. What’s it gonna take to slow her down. It’s like he’s taking a stroll. He’s got no control. He can’t fake the man he’s supposed to be.
Hide Your Tears – This song features guitar, bass and light drums. He doesn’t spend too many days thinking about his reckless ways, how to outrun death or the broken hearts, trouble and pain he’s caused. He tells her to hide her tears out in plain sight, hide them to catch the light, show them to her friends. Then go and hide your tears again.
The Odds of Loving You – This slow acoustic blues song features some excellent guitar from Yates McKendree, including a solo mid-song. He rode in on his high horse, taking notes and naming names, but ran out like a dog in shame. He likes the gravy but she wants to save him from himself. He’s stubborn and stupid. Seven nights of heaven and eleven nights of who shot who. He likes those odds of loving her.
One Stiff Breeze – This is a Goners-like rocker featuring a distorted guitar sound. He can’t find her anywhere, though he would have thought she would stand out in a crowd with her flashlight eyes. The song suddenly changes toward the end of the song with him singing “I love you” and some organ added.
Robber’s Highway – This was the first song Hiatt wrote for the record. He has stated “I was just thinking in terms of somebody who’s out there hammering away with his music, wondering what it’s all coming to.” The song is sung over acoustic guitar, bass and light drums. He’s aging and has regrets about his life on the road. He’s wondering what it was he did so well. Now he doesn’t have feeling in the fingers of one of his hands. The night before felt like a three-night stand. He didn’t plan to wake up this day. He sings “Come and get me Jesus, I don’t know. Come and get me ‘cause I can’t go.”
In the Blue Light – Paul Simon
I first read about 76 year old Paul Simon’s plans to make a “revisit” album with new interpretations of some of his previously recorded songs in Robert Hillburn’s excellent 2018 biography Paul Simon: The Life. In the Blue Light, Simon’s 14th solo album, features ten recordings of old works, newly considered that were originally released from 1973 to 2011. In the liner notes, Simon says he chose “songs that I thought were almost right, or were odd enough as to be overlooked the first time around”. The album was produced by Simon and Roy Halee.
The album features excellent contributions from jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, guitarist Bill Frissell, Chamber ensemble yMusic, saxophonist Joe Lovano, drummer Jack DeJohnette, bassist John Patitucci and The National’s Bryce Dessner.
In some instances, Simon even makes small tweaks to some of his lyrics. Simon includes four songs from his 2000 album You’re the One, none of his hits and no songs from his classic album Graceland.
Below are a few brief comments about each song on the album:
One Man’s Ceiling Is Another Man’s Floor – This song was originally included on 1973’s There Goes Rhymin’ Simon. This version, which is more bluesy than the original, features some excellent piano, horns and a passionate vocal from Simon.
Love – This song was originally included on the 2000 album You’re the One. This version features some excellent Spanish guitar.
Can’t Run But – This song was originally included on 1990’s The Rhythm of the Saints. This version moves from Brazilian world music to more of a modern classical music feel/acoustic chamber music from yMusic with a new arrangement from The National’s Bryce Dessner. A lyrical change has the blues band by the riverbank that appeared in the original version being replaced by the DJ.
How the Heart Approaches What It Yearns – This song was originally included on the 1980 album One-Trick Pony. Marsalis’ trumpet and some good piano bring a jazz feel to this version of the song and the atmosphere of the now downtown (formerly local) bar and grill. His trumpet replaces the acoustic guitar on the original version.
Pigs, Sheep and Wolves – This song was originally included on the 2000 album You’re the One. The song, which Simon has described as an urban song about racial profiling, is jazzier than the original. This version with Marsalis’ trumpet and the percussion is a Mardis Gras march, a New Orleans-styled party.
Rene and Georgette Magritte with Their Dog After the War – This song was originally included on the 1983 album Hearts and Bones. This version features YMusic’s strings arrangement and light horns.
The Teacher – This song was originally included on the 2000 album You’re the One. This version is more unplugged than the original. It features some tasty Spanish guitar from Odair Assad and Sergio Assad and some good saxophone.
Darling Lorraine – This story song about a troubled relationship was originally included on the 2000 album You’re the One. This version includes acoustic guitar, some from the late Vincent Nguini, who played with Simon until his death in 2017. The song also features some light backing vocals and a good vocal from Simon.
Some Folks’ Lives Roll Easy – This song was originally included on the 1975 album Still Crazy After All These Years. This version, which features piano, bass, and saxophone, is jazzier than the original, and has Sullivan Fortner’s piano replacing the electric piano on the original version.
Questions for Angels – This song was originally included on the 2011 album So Beautiful or So What. This version is driven by some beautiful acoustic guitar.
Questions for the angels
Who believes in angels?
Fools and pilgrims all over the world
- No Days Off. It’s been awhile since we’ve heard some new solo music from Trip Lee. Check out his new single “No Days Off”.
- This is Amazing Grace. Check out this version of Phil Wickham’s “This is Amazing Grace” featuring Lecrae, from the film Breakthrough.
- Hold Me Back. KB is back with a new single, “Hold Me Back”.
- Come behold the wondrous mystery
Slain by death, the God of life
But no grave could e’er restrain him
Praise the Lord, He is alive “Come Behold The Wondrous Mystery” by Matt Boswell
- What patience would wait, as we constantly roam
What Father so tender, is calling us home
He welcomes the weakest, the vilest, the poor
Our sins they are many, His mercy is more “His Mercy is More” by Matt Boswell and Matt Papa
- Christ the sure and steady anchor, as we face the wave of death
When these trials give way to glory, and we draw our final breath
We will cross that great horizon, clouds behind and life secure
And the calm will be the better, for the storms that we endure “Christ The Sure and Steady Anchor” by Matt Boswell and Matt Papa
Untitled Hymn (Come to Jesus) by Chris Rice
I’m excited that Chris Rice has followed up his popular 2006 album Peace Like a River – The Hymns Project with another album of hymns Untitled Hymn: A Collection of Hymns. The new album features twelve songs, including a new version of Rice’s “Untitled Hymn (Come to Jesus)”. Listen to that song here.
Weak and wounded sinner, lost and left to die
O, raise your head for Love is passing by
Come to Jesus, come to Jesus
Come to Jesus and live
Now your burden’s lifted and carried far away
And precious blood has washed away the stain
So sing to Jesus, sing to Jesus
Sing to Jesus and live
And like a newborn baby, don’t be afraid to crawl
And remember when you walk, sometimes we fall
So fall on Jesus, fall on Jesus
Fall on Jesus and live
Sometimes the way is lonely and steep and filled with pain
So if your sky is dark and pours the rain
Then cry to Jesus, cry to Jesus
Cry to Jesus and live
O, and when the love spills over and music fills the night
And when you can’t contain your joy inside
Then dance for Jesus, dance for Jesus
Dance for Jesus and live
And with your final heartbeat, kiss the world goodbye
Then go in peace, and laugh on Glory’s side
And fly to Jesus, fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus and live
Fly to Jesus, fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus and live