Based out of Millbank, Ontario, Rescue Junction has been travelling and singing together since 2009. They started out as brother and sister duo Kyle (mandolin/vocals) and Kaitlyn (guitar/vocals) Gerber. Now the group’s roster includes Roger Martin on banjo, Dallas Roth on upright bass, and Nick Huber on dobro. Their official website says they “play at many kinds of venues including churches, parks, community centres, auditoriums, and the bluegrass festival circuit”. Rescue Junction was named Most Promising Group (2013) and Gospel Group (2014) at the Central Canada Bluegrass Music Awards. Their brand new album is ECHOES (2015). It was produced by the group and Brad Dugas, and engineered and mixed by Dugas. The liner notes include these thoughts: “All creation echoes an eternal home...Life on earth is a constant negotiation of two realities, nurturing and investing in the physical world around us while also preparing our souls for the eternal home we anticipate”.
The title track ‘Echoes’ is first up. It is one of five songs on the album penned by Kaitlyn E. Gerber. This pleasant country song anticipates Heaven: “We were left with a promise of somewhere to belong/This fallen world we’re given is just a stepping stone/We were told of a coming, a new world without end/And if we listen closely, it echoes back again/Echoes from a home I’ve never known/But I know that’s where I’m going/It’s where I’m bound”. ‘Along the Way’ is one of two Ron Block compositions. This toe-tapping bluegrass number includes these poetic musings: “The double mind goes to and fro trying to believe/The single life of faith it knows and walks by what it sees/The Saviour drank His golden fill, faithful to the end/He called the cross His Father’s will/Said Judas was His friend”. ‘Steel Wheels’ has lyrics that those who don’t like the hustle and bustle of cities will appreciate: “Well, they say the more things change the more they stay the same, but in my sleepy town I wouldn’t know that’s true/The neighbours are the same since 1988 and I wouldn’t change it even if I could/Well, things move a little slower in our little town, a take time to smell the roses sort of thing/On every hill and riverside a memory of a childhood that would rival any king’s”.
Summer McMahan of Mountain Faith appears on ‘In the Shadow of Your Wings’. The song has a calming effect and converses freely with God: “A sparrow won’t try to deserve You/He’ll trust You to feed Him again/No man can gain Your approval but by faith in the One who washed away my sin/Oh, I want to fly like a sparrow who fears not the wrath from Your hand/He sings in the shadow of Your wings”. ‘Hold On’ has a pulsating beat and makes good use of backing vocals. This song reminds us that we need God as our sure anchor: “You can’t make it alone, you won’t find your way on your own/It’s a long road and hard cross to bear, and a dream if you think you’ll get there on your own/So hold on to the Rock/Stand firm, stand strong/Hold on or be lost/Narrow the road going home and heavy the heart on its own/Hold on”. Ila Chandler Knight wrote the Southern Gospel gem ‘I’ll Live Again’. It joyfully reflects on eternal life: “I’ll live again over on that golden strand/I’ll sing and shout with a mighty angel band/You’ll see me rise beyond the starry skies/I’ll live again over on the other side/I’ve a mansion over there built in beauty rare”.
Karen Suzanne Rochelle and Edward Monroe Hill wrote ‘He Goes to Church’. It is a sentimental story song about a widower: “He wakes up early in the morning, puts on his only blue suit/He hasn’t quite mastered tying his tie on the way his sweet Sara used to/It’s been years since he’s talked to the Good Lord/He’s not sure he even knows how/He won’t be mowing the front yard today/He goes to church on Sundays now/No, he don’t know the words to ‘The Old Rugged Cross’ but he sings them the best that he can/Cause He knows that his angel is up there in heaven and he sure wants to see her again”. ‘Northern Border Bound’ begins slowly in an acappella manner and then goes full tilt bluegrass style. It is about the end of a romantic relationship: “You don’t need me anymore/No need to hang around/I’m leaving in the morning/I’ll be northern border bound.../I hear the ringing on the rails and the whistle of a train/Takes my heart a little south to your memory once again”. ‘Just as the Sun went Down’ sounds like old-time barbershop quartet music. It also utilizes finger snaps and recalls the events of Good Friday: “Just as the evening sun was sinking in the golden west/Hanging between two thieves, they crucified the Son of God/Mocked by the multitude, they placed on Him a thorn made crown/Love like this was never known/Jesus dying for His own/Just as the sun went down”.
‘Green Pastures’ is a ballad that speaks of the Lord’s faithfulness: “Troubles and trials often betray us/Causing the weary body to stray/But we shall walk beside the still waters/With the Good Shepherd leading the way/Those who have strayed were sought by the Master/He who once gave His life for the sheep/Out on the mountain still He is searching/Bringing them in forever to keep”. ‘God Spoke His Name’ is a lovely bluegrass song recalling God’s boundless love for us, His children: “Compassion moved Him like an ocean tide/He sent His Son so far to die/And when they nailed Him to that rugged cross/Well, I know God spoke His Name/Salvation washed us like a gentle rain/It healed our hearts and soothed the pain/And when the sun rose on that glorious day/Well, I know God spoke His Name”. Paul Overstreet and Ronald Alan Schlitz wrote ‘Neath the light of Your Love’. It places full confidence in God: “Yes, I will sleep neath the light of Your love and it will guide my way till the sun comes up/If the moon and stars shall fall from above/I will sleep neath the light of Your love”.
‘At the end of that Road’ is a nice love song: “Every time I’m tired and my feet seem lost/When the wind roars and the way is dark/Well, you are the moon to my tide, pulling me back until I’m at your side/O-o-o-o/ Please rest assured, I will return/O-o-o-o/I won’t be long/Please don’t lose heart/With each turn of the wheel, I know I’m closer to home/And you’re at the end of that road”. The last song is mainly an instrumental composed by Kyle Gerber. It is entitled ‘fernweh’. The origins of the word are German. The definition is: “a longing for travel; being homesick for a place you’ve never been”.
If you are into music that involves skillful picking and plucking, rather than hard rock and roll, this album is for you. ECHOES is a wonderful bluegrass effort with a clear and passionate Christian message. That message is that Jesus Christ died for us and our sins and because of that we can spend life eternal in Heaven, a land of great joy and hope! The vocals and harmonies presented here are terrific and the production is great. Rescue Junction should have a great future ahead of them! Hopefully they continue recording music for many years to come. Fans of Alison Krauss, Ricky Skaggs, Dailey & Vincent, and Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver should buy this project which I’m rating 93%. For more info visit: www.rescuejunctionband.com.
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