Following the racing, contemporary feel of her debut single, “Something You Didn’t Count On,” Mountain Home Music Company’s Jaelee Roberts returns with a thoroughly traditional-sounding gospel entry, “Still Waters.” The single, produced by Tim Surrett of the award-winning Balsam Range, offers ample evidence of the young singer’s stylistic and expressive range.
Though it’s barely two and a half minutes long, “Still Waters” has room for more than simple exposition. Beginning with the durable pairing of mandolin and guitar — from IBMA Mandolin Player of the Year Alan Bibey and veteran Tony Wray respectively — the intricate arrangement leads into the song’s chorus, delivered by Roberts and harmony singers Kelsi and Paul Harrigill (Flatt Lonesome), followed by the full band, which includes Steve Martin Banjo Prize winner Kristin Scott Benson (The Grascals) and ace fiddler Jimmy Mattingly (Garth Brooks, Dolly Parton). Roberts delivers the verses with conviction — the first by herself, the second with a crescendo of added harmonies — alternating with choruses and twin fiddle passages that recall the sound of bluegrass pioneers such as Bill Monroe and Mac Wiseman.
“When I started gathering songs to record, I knew I wanted to include gospel songs, of course,” says Roberts. “Immediately I reached out to Kelsi Robertson Harrigill to see if she had written anything, she could send me. Kelsi is an amazing songwriter and especially of gospel songs — ‘In The Heat of the Fire,’ ‘In The Morning,’ ‘Draw Me Near,’ ‘Happy ‘Til He Comes,’ ‘Just Any Moment’ recorded by Flatt Lonesome and ‘There Is You’ by The Grascals — so I was very excited when she said she had something for me! As soon as I listened to the demo of ‘Still Waters’ I knew I had to record it; the lyrics, the melody, the tempo — it all spoke to me right away. I’ve grown up singing in church and gospel music is very special to me and the words to this are especially comforting: ‘He takes my hand and leads me beside Still Waters.’”
With the recent announcement that she has joined reigning IBMA Entertainer of the Year, Sister Sadie, as guitarist and lead singer, “Still Waters” serves not only as a convincing addition to the bluegrass canon — and, of course, as a heartfelt profession of faith — but, like “Something You Didn’t Count On,” compelling evidence that Jaelee Roberts is on her way to a place among the music’s leading interpreters.
Listen to "Still Waters" HERE.