REVIEW: Becky Isaacs Bowman – Songs That Through Me Through the Tough Times

Producer: Becky Bowman & Ben Isaacs
Record Label: House of Isaacs

[yasr_overall_rating size=”medium”]

If there ever was a recording that truly was a labor of love, I believe this is it!  An idea that was birthed over 3 years ago during a conversation between Becky and master guitarist, Kelly Back during a recording session they both were a part of, “Songs That Pulled Me Through the Tough Times” finally became a reality!  As Becky’s first solo recording, it represents some of her deepest thoughts and emotions, and does a wonderful job paying tribute to her heroes and special people in her life.  Those joining Becky on this recording reads like a “who’s who” from the country and bluegrass genres, as well as gospel.  It’s only natural that it’s these genres she pulls from, as they had the biggest impacts on her life personally and professionally.  While each song is distinctively different, they are all woven together perfectly, as each song gives us a peek inside Becky’s heart and soul.

The album starts off with the stunning and haunting melody of “DREAM”.  Featuring the beautiful guitar work of the late Jimmy Capps, it’s an almost hypnotic song and is one of the highlights of the recording as Becky tries to capture the spirit of the late Roy Orbison’s version, which I think was beautifully captured here.

An updated version of one of the Isaacs’ early songs, “FAMILY CHAIN”, which was written by Becky’s dad, Joe Isaacs, is next.  Featuring Ricky Skaggs, it’s a great re-cut of the song, before Becky is joined by Dolly Parton on the acoustic feel of “EARLY MORNING BREEZE”, a song Dolly penned and originally recorded over 50 years ago.  Becky and Dolly sound perfect together before the tempo slows down for the song that started it all, “GOD LEADS HIS DEAR CHILDREN ALONG”.  Featuring Kelly Back on guitar and country legends, The Whites, it’s a highlight of the recording, and one of my all-time favorite hymns.  It was this song that spurred action on this recording, and it is a wonderful inclusion for this recording.

Picking up the tempo, Becky is joined by Reggie and Ladye Love-Smith on the pop classic, “THE GLORY OF LOVE”.  Recorded by such names as Rosemary Clooney, Bette Midler, Andrews Sisters and Dean Martin, it’s a fanciful and fun song, and it’s a great addition to the recording.

The late Jimmy Capps is featured on the guitar once again on another one of my all-time favorite hymns, “WHERE WE’LL NEVER GROW OLD”.  On this song, Becky is joined by her husband, John Bowman and bluegrass legend, Allison Krauss, and is also joined by Jimmy Capps’ son, Mark Capps, on guitar.  It’s a beautiful rendition and one of the highlights of the recording, as is the Joel Hemphill classic, “MASTER OF THE WIND”, where Becky is joined by Candy Hemphill-Christmas and Aaron Crabb.  This trio sounds wonderful together and it’s always a treat when this song is sung!  As an added plus, former Hemphill’s guitarist turned studio musician, Bruce Watkins, joins the band on the guitar for the song.

One of the most beautiful songs on this recording is Becky’s version of the timeless classic, “REMEMBER”.  This mesmerizing and sentimental tune reminds me of why Becky is one of my all-time favorite singers, as it showcases Becky’s deep alto tones, but also her beautiful falsetto tones as well.  She is joined by Ron Block (member of Allison Krauss & Union Station) on guitar, as well as her children, Levi and Jakobi Bowman on vocals.  I love the strings and guitar work on the song, as this is probably my favorite song from the recording.

Picking the tempo up, Becky is joined by Connie Smith, Marty Stuart, Joe Bonsall and her husband, John Bowman on the bluegrass/country gospel standard, “WAY UP ON THE MOUNTAIN”, before Jimmy Fortune and Charlotte Ritchie join Becky on a beautiful rendition of “THE GOOD SHEPHERD”.  Featuring some really nice guitar playing by Mike Riddle, this was a popular tune for the Primitive Quartet nearly 30 years ago, and Becky slows the tempo down from the original version, and really made the song her own, as it’s definitely one of the crowing gems of the recording.

            Another highlight of the album is the sentimental “FEELS LIKE HOME”.  Previously recorded by Trio (Dolly Parton, EmmyLou Harris and Linda Ronstadt) Becky does a phenomenal job on this tune, which features Bryan Sutton on guitar and vocals.

            Becky is joined by bluegrass legends, Doyle Lawson and Russell Moore on “HE’S MY GUIDE”, a song popularized by Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver in the late 80s/early 90s, before another bluegrass legend, Del McCoury, joins Becky on the classic, “I’LL MEET YOU IN THE MORNING”.  Bill Gaither, Jamie Dailey, Darren Vincent and Rhonda Vincent also join in on the song as well, before the recording closes out with the hymn, “IT IS WELL”, which features Vince Gill on vocals, and he also provides some gorgeous guitar work.  This hymn has been a highly popular song for the Isaacs, but here Becky makes the song all her own with her rendition, and it closes out the recording perfectly.

When I first heard Becky had a new solo recording coming out, I was elated because she is one of the best alto singers out there and I love the passion that she sings with.  You can hear that passion in every note on this recording, as she pays tribute to the special people in her life, singing the songs that mean the most to her.  Another aspect I love about this recording is the extensive liner notes for each song.  Becky shares her thoughts on each song as well as each person playing a role on the recording.  It’s very apparent this recording is one that Becky holds close to her heart and her fans will also find a lot to love about this recording as well.  It’s a very deep and emotion filled work of art that I find very comforting and soothing to listen to.  I am more than ready for another solo recording from Becky, as this is definitely one of the finest releases for 2022!

James Hales

James Hales, from Durham, North Carolina, has been a writer for since 2000. James is our featured reviewer and also contributes to monthly features periodically.
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