Album Review of
Grandpa Built a Church House

Written by Joe Ross
August 23, 2019 - 1:32am EDT
Review Rating Star Review Rating Star Review Rating Star Review Rating Star Review Rating Star

For over fifty years, traditional bluegrass band Cedar Hill has stayed their course of presenting visionary music emphasizing originality, spirituality and messages from their Ozark mountain homes. Of course, the band has had personnel changes, but mandolinist Frank Ray has persevered. His long-time dedication to bluegrass has been recognized with his induction into the National Traditional Country Music Association’s Hall of Fame (2008) and receipt of a Lifetime Achievement Award (2018) from that same organization. In 2019, Ray was inducted into SPBGMA’s Hall of Greats. Besides Ray, the cohesive band’s current lineup includes Jim Bunch (banjo), Pete Brown (fiddle), Patti LaFleur (bass), and Dan Stokely (guitar). For this album, Stokely handles all the lead vocals on the eleven Frank Ray originals, and recording engineer Eddie Faris contributes the guitar playing. Cedar Hill has a lot of downhome charisma, and they’ve built a legion of fans over the years. The material on this bluegrass gospel album ranges from poignant ¾-time offerings (“Thirty Three Years,”  “A Home Made for Me,” “For Me It's Hello”) to powerful songs with emotionally-charged messages (e.g. “Peter You're the Man,” “Flood Plain of Despair,” “Gonna Have a Time,” “Nails and Thorns”). Cedar Hill strikes gold with their impressionist songs presented in a straight ahead fashion. But even more so, they capture the contagious energy and rustic purity that’s the heart of bluegrass.  (Joe Ross, Roots Music Report)