This week, for the review, I asked Stephen Simpson if I could reprint the following review. He is benwardmusic.com’s first guest blogger!
“WASH AWAY” (Integrity Music, 2009)
5 Stars out of 5
The long-awaited major label debut from singer/songwriter Don Poythress arrives in the form of a fresh – and refreshing – praise and worship expression entitled “Wash Away”. Don is known and loved among many of our One-to-One readers as the leader of the annual Gatlinburg Conference worship team; but he is also highly respected among some of the most prominent music artists in America.
Over the past decade, Don has quietly built an exceptional collection of songs – classics that have been recorded by artists such as Clint Black, Tim McGraw, Willie Nelson, Hank Williams, Jr., Travis Tritt, Jaci Velasquez, Sir Cliff Richard,and The Martins (the Dove Award-winning song “The Promise”).
With “Wash Away,” Don presents an exceptional blend of his original songs, along with two much-loved hymns. As a lyricist, Don Poythress has few peers … he has an uncanny knack for presenting timeless truth with an unvarnished biblical perspective that is devoid of clichés or pat answers; these songs are deeply personal, yet can touch something unique in the heart of every listener. Strong and memorable melodies are offered in a Modern Country style, played by some of the best musicians in Nashville.
The worship experience begins with the chiming “Expectation,” which is the perfect invitation to go up together into the presence of God. Don’s leadership and the song selection throughout is a study in how to flow in the Spirit, soaring into “I Will Call Upon Your Name” and then, a thrilling vocal collaboration with Paul Baloche on “Brand New Day” – definitely two of the many songs here that your congregation will want to sing. The poetic, gently flowing “Fill Me Up” makes room for the searingly honest and moving heartcry, “Wash Away.”
The modern hymn “Before the Throne of God Above” is the natural response to the deep repentance and cleansing of “Wash Away,” followed by the peace-imparting “I Will Bless the Lord.” On “The Faithful Love of Jesus,” Don is joined by the incomparable bluegrass legend Ricky Skaggs on vocals and mandolin… “I pray you’ll know the love of God, the love that never leaves us, the height the depth, the width the breadth, the faithful love of Jesus.” Just hearing this song is an answer to that prayer.
Don again displays his poetic gift with “Lord of All” which leads into a powerful promise-filled proclamation: “A Thousand Generations”. The simple eloquence of the “Doxology” closes out the time of congregational worship. But Don isn’t finished yet: he offers one of those signature Poythress real-life stories – as only Don can tell them – about “Joseph,” the human father of Jesus. It’s a masterful and moving portrait of the man God chose and tested and used to care for His own Son.
TO SUM UP …
A fresh – and deeply refreshing – collection of songs that flows perfectly in the presence of God. Those who love and seek truth will find this authentic expression a welcome respite from market-driven artiface. Those who enjoy Modern Country music will enjoy the excellence of the singing and musicianship offered. Brilliantly produced, but thankfully not over-produced, by Paul Mills, this is one of the warmest and best-sounding music releases of the year.
Don is the worship leader at Abundant Life Church in Mt. Juliet, TN (Pastor Larry Grainger), along with Jim LaVerde (of Barren Cross) and a stellar team of musicians, singers, and tech support.