Paul Williams continues his arc to becoming one of the greatest gospel figures in bluegrass music. His background is well known. He was a mainstay of a classic edition of Jimmy Martin & the Sunny Mountain Boys, playing mandolin and singing tenor in a superlative trio that featured Martin on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, and J.D. Crowe on banjo and baritone. Even before Williams left secular music, he made his mark on sacred songs with the Sunny Mountain Boys, recording such classics as “I Like To Hear Them Preach It,” “Prayer Bells Of Heaven,” and “Stormy Waters.”
A native of East Tennessee, Williams resumed music making in 1999 and signed with Rebel Records. He was a finalist in the Gospel Recorded Performance category of this year’s International Bluegrass Music Association awards. Williams continues to be a prolific and successful songwriter (under his real name Paul Humphrey). Standouts on this CD include “He’ll Calm The Troubled Waters,” “Kept And Protected,” and “The Vision.”
It’s clear that Paul Williams has carefully selected his fellow musicians. Guitarists Dan Moneyhun and Adam Winstead blend with Williams to make a fine vocal trio, as witness their wonderful sound on the title track “I’m Going To Stay In The Old Time Way.” The Victory Trio might be called the Victory Quartet or Quintet: Susie Keys provides rock-solid support on the bass and Jerry Keys is an excellent choice for banjo. Special guest Hunter Berry provides just the right touch on fiddle. It’s also notable that Paul Williams’ compelling, angelic vocals and his crisp mandolin playing have not been eroded by time.
As the last line of “I’m Going To Stay In The Old Time Way” says: I highly recommend it to you. The same can be said of Paul Williams’ latest CD. (Rebel Records, P.O. Box 7405, Charlottesville, VA 22906, www.rebelrecords.com.)RDS