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Ralph Stanley

While the Ages Roll On – 2000 (Rebel)

Reviewed by Kevin Oliver

After the collaborative efforts of his previous two albums. it was inevitable Ralph Stanley would get back to his roots on this all-new disc. Like most bluegrass musicians, traditional gospel has been a part of his repertoire from the beginning, and this all-gospel collection is a testament to both Stanley's faith and his ability to relate it in song.

The songs are split between arrangements of traditional tunes like, "Gone Away With A Friend," done here in a stirring a cappella rendition, and new compositions, including "Are You Ready," a Stanley co-write with Gene Duty, and four from the pen of Earl Sykes. While not billed, the Clinch Mountain Boys are present and well accounted for, with John Rigsby earning his keep with some sweet tenor vocals in addition to his typically stellar mandolin work.

Stanley Sr. handles most of the lead vocals, and it is his rustic, slightly raspy voice that makes this true country gospel. Like the "Ages," he sings of on the title track, Stanley rolls on, making bluegrass for the ages.