The Promised Land – Del McCoury Band
McCoury Music 0003It’s not much of a secret to those who know me, casually and closely, that music in its many styles, forms and rhythms comes closest to something I give praise to on a daily basis. Anything else resembling religion in my life is more akin to a mutt-like philosophy combining ideas from this decree and that commandment and a way of living. So, I’ll admit that I’m not viewed as a church-going type, but if the Del McCoury Band started hosting weekly mass, I’d probably reconsider my ways.
With a schedule and line-up settled plus an understanding music label, his own, McCoury finally found the right moment to accomplish a long-held dream recording an album of gospel music. What makes the effort, known collectively as The Promised Land, such a honest-to-goodness spiritual cleansing is not the conviction of the bluegrass performances nor the no-note-out-of-place musicianship we’ve come to expect from DMB, it’s the joyous and uplifting outlook that comes through on the 14 tracks. It begins with the announcement on the excitable “I’m Bound For The Land of Canaan” and its emphasized again and again, particularly on “Ain’t Nothin’ Going To Come Up Today (Me And The Good Lord Can’t Handle).” Later, on “We Know Where He Is,” he sings of the sadness of an elder’s passing but the comfort felt in the circumstances because while the physical self lies in state the spirit moved on to a place preached in the Bible.
For those who may be put off by the ideas behind the material due to the 21st century affiliation of the Gospel being linked with Christianity being linked with religious right politics in cahoots with hate-filled agendas, it’s not found here. Showing the truer colors of what it means to be one of the followers of God and His teachings, McCoury sings “Sit Down With Jesus.” The song makes it a point that the Son of God doesn’t discriminate and invites everyone to hang out with Him.
Despite all the positivity and good cheer infused in the songs, McCoury leaves his listeners with a warning on “The Lord is Writing Down Names” that you better live your life right or all the great things he’s talked about will be missed. Even here, the lesson rests more towards urging one to be a good person rather than presenting a stern lecture. Like all of The Promised Land the words offer reassurance, while the playing can only make you shout, “Halleluiah!”