Fescue Gospel (Fescue)

Fescue Gospel
Classic Records CR-1402

It's not always true that familiarity breeds contempt. Fescue has released a pleasant collection of familiar gospel favorites which rates high on the "sing-along meter". Fescue Gospel doesn't really contain any surprises, but the songs are well played, with thoughtful arrangements and graceful vocals. There's a good mix of traditional tunes (I've Just Seen The Rock of Ages, Old Country Church) and relatively new ones (Man In The Middle and Heaven's Bright Shore).

Fescue spreads the lead vocal chores around, though there are no credits on the vocals. There's a bit of unsteadiness in spots, but it all works together pretty well. These Are They is probably the least familiar of the songs in the collection, but the trio harmony sets the tone for the rest of the recording. Wayne Hubble's clean mandolin work sparkles throughout, while David Neal contributes some nice cross-picked guitar backup to Rank Stranger, which gives it that real Shuffler-esque sound. Kevin Jackson plays some wonderful, bluesy fiddle in White Dove. The instrumental work isn't flashy, but it fits the straightforward style perfectly. The focus is on the words and messages of the songs, as it should be. The harmonies in I've Just Seen The Rock of Ages add just the right sort of spooky sound, though the vocal mix is a bit unbalanced. My personal favorite on the recording is Phil Rosenthal's up-tempo Open Up The Window, Noah. Fescue's arrangement isn't all that different from the Seldom Scene's familiar version, but they deliver it convincingly. Fescue Gospel is an overall good effort. The band plays it close to the vest, and that results in a pleasant, listenable collection.

Published in Bluegrass Unlimited, January 1996. Used with permission.