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Jerry and Tammy Sullivan

Tomorrow – 2000 (Ceili Music)

Reviewed by Brad San Martin

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CDs by Jerry and Tammy Sullivan

The modesty of the participating musicians would not permit them to make such a claim, but this is a new golden age for bluegrass gospel. New releases by Tony and Gary Williamson, the Dry Branch Fire Squad, Ricky Skaggs, and the Cockman Family are among the best bluegrass releases - sacred or secular - of the past year. Even in the company of such heavyweights, this album is a gem.

Tammy Sullivan has one of the most stirring, moving altos around country today: a sturdy, emotional instrument that she employs without frill or pretense. Jerry - Tammy's father - provides rugged, driving flat-picking and enthusiastic harmony (and the occasional lead) vocals. He also penned (or co-wrote) most of the album, which mixes straightforward songs of praise with more personal songs of faith. It's all delivered with subdued, sparse instrumentation by some of the best bluegrass pickers around (Mike Bubb, Stuart Duncan, and Marty Stuart among them).

Credit must also go to producer Stuart. In addition to playing mandolin and guitar and co-writing a lot of material with the elder Sullivan, Stuart turns in an ace production job. He proves true to his grassy roots by keeping the distractions to a minimum, allowing the humble music to speak for itself.