REVIEW: Chuck Wagon Gang – Come Go With Me

The Chuck Wagon Gang is a legendary American gospel music group that has been captivating audiences for nearly a century. Formed in 1935, the group originated in Texas. Renowned for their distinct four-part harmonies and heartfelt performances, the Chuck Wagon Gang popularized Southern gospel music across the United States. Despite facing numerous lineup changes over the years, the Chuck Wagon Gang has continued to inspire audiences with their rich vocal blend and unwavering commitment to spreading the message of faith through music. Their enduring legacy and timeless recordings make them an integral part of gospel music history.

Now nearly 90 years since their formation and hundreds of albums later, a new era of Chuck Wagon Gang is upon us, and unique to this album is the inclusion of new original material as well as some classic covers of songs done in that traditional Chuck Wagon style.

The album opens with the title track “Come Go With Me.” The song begins just as every other Chuck Wagon Gang performance does one single C chord, and then the unmistakable blend that is the Chuck Wagon Gang leads us on our musical journey. Each member has their distinctive voice and sound and blends so beautifully. “The Mighty Word of God” features Josh Garner’s lead and his booming tenor/lead voice. Josh is such a talented singer and quite a surprising but most welcome addition to the CWG.

Alto Shaye Smith is the familial connection for the CWG. She is the granddaughter of original member Anna. The gospel classic “I Dreamed About Heaven Last Night” features her beautiful alto voice and is one of the highlights for sure. “His Boundless Love” is another classic Chuck Wagon Gang tune that is just simply good and nothing negative can be said. “Heavenly Gain” is a heart tugging song featuring Soprano Melissa Kemper. The lyrics are so heartfelt and a comfort that earthly losses are heavenly gains.
If you look just at the track list you would think the next song is the Chuck Wagon Gang’s attempt at Handel’s magnificent “Hallelujah” chorus from the oratorio “Messiah,” however, this is actually a convention song written by G.T. (Dad) Speer! It’s one of those where everyone splits up and by the end the goal is to reach the same spot, and with each time the CWG does it. This is a master class on how to sing convention music and sing it right!
Back in March, I had the opportunity to hear the Chuck Wagon Gang in person and the highlight of the night was Josh Garner singing the Dottie Rambo classic “For What Earthly Reason.” Now everyone else gets to hear it. The profound message in this song just in my opinion hasn’t been told better than here from the heartfelt vocals of Josh and the backing voices of the “gang.” Class is back in session for “I Am A Weary Pilgrim.” Seriously, if you want to know how to sing harmony and convention music there is none better than the Chuck Wagon Gang. Take notes!
The first single from the album features Shaye: “I Will Not Cry Today.” This is an uptempo Bluegrass tune with some catchy lyrics. Plus, as if it couldn’t get any better, the song even modulates to keep from being too “ho-hum.” When it comes to the Chuck Wagon Gang, is that even a possibility? The final song, “Our Sins Are Washed Away,” album is very interesting and unique. It comes from the pen of Shaye Smith herself along with Roger Aligood, but even more unique than that is the fact that it sounds like it came straight from a singing school songbook. It features each member doing exactly what they do best: Melissa singing the high sustained soprano, Josh rounding out the lead, Shaye and her rich alto adding that middle moving part and bass singer and guitarist/accompanist the most integral part of all of the gang Darrell Morris.

Come Go With Me sounds just like any other Chuck Wagon Gang in terms of this is who the Gang is and has been. On the other hand, it’s very unique in that there are original songs and a bit more instrumentation than typical albums. However, if you’ve never listened to the Chuck Wagon Gang…what are you waiting on? There are so many albums to choose from and songs I’m almost sure if you have a favorite song…in the past almost 100 years of church/convention music the Gang has probably recorded a version of the song. So be sure to add this album to your collection.

PRODUCER: Jeremy Stephens
RECORD LABEL: Mountain Home Music/Crossroads Music Group
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