CD Review: The Voice Of God by Don Rigsby and Midnight Call

Good gospel music makes you feel good; makes you want to clap your hands and rock. Don Rigsby and Midnight Call presents this well with bluesy guitar, call and response and chunky rhythm in the first cut “Forgiveness.” Don shares the vocal lead with a female singer not listed in the liner notes for this cut but could be Beth Castle. She does a nice job weaving her vocals in and out with Don. Rory Block adds her slide guitar to this cut.

Don’s vocals are fluid and clear, riding effortlessly over a wonderful back up band as in “The Gospel According To Luke.”

Don and Midnight Call show their a capella acumen with “He Done What He Said” showing tight harmonies reminiscent of Cody Schuler and Pine Mountain Railroad. Don follows this with a solo a capella in “The Lord Will Provide.”

“Mary Magdalene” is an up tempo duet with Don and Beth Castle which rolls along with an easy gospel lope.

“Leaning On The Son”

A speedy “Then Y’ Ain’t,” written by the prolific Tom T. and Dixie Hall, has the same lyrical format as John Hartford’s “Gentle On My Mind” with a similar melody.

The production is very personal. You can hear the squeaks and slides of fingers on strings giving the feeling you are right in the same room as the musicians.

Midnight Call is staffed by several unsung musicians with some interesting instruments. Don is listed as playing fiddle, mandolin, guitar, mandocaster and mandola. Gerald Evans on fiddle and baritone vocals; Dale Vanderpool on banjo, classical guitar, banjolin, and baritone vocal; Clyde Marshall on guitar and tenor vocal; Patrick McAvenue on fiddle; Tim Greene on acoustic bass; Robert Maynard on guitar, acoustic bass and bass vocal; and Rory Block on slide guitar and vocals.

The most interesting song on this CD is “I Am An Orphan Child” co-written by Don Rigsby and Gilian Welch. A songwriter’s question may be, which came first the “Girl” or the “Child?” “I Am An Orphan Child” appears to be a relative of Gillian Welch’s “Orphan Girl.” The songs have similar lyrics and vague musical similarities but they are not the same song. The lyrics from “I Am An Orphan Child,”–“I have no mother, I have no father, I have no sister or brother, I am an orphan child,” contrast with Gillian Welch’s “I have no mother, no father, no sister, no brother, I am an orphan girl” from Gilian’s “Orphan Girl.” The similarity ends there. The verse lyrics are different yet equally poignant. Would have been nice to be a fly on that songwriting wall.

Doug Mathewson

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