The King James Boys’ musical story is a testament of love. It’s love for God and His influence in the lives of its members and for bluegrass as a form. King James Boys have a nearly thirty-year history, first forming in 1994, and initially had no intentions of recording or touring. They made the decision, however, after soul-searching and prayer. It’s a good thing for us. Their latest single “The Devil’s Not Afraid of a Dust Covered Bible” testifies, as well, to the wisdom of that decision.
The five-piece outfit’s single from their album Walk on Faith is thoroughly throwback material. They are unabashed purveyors of pure 100% bluegrass, complete with banjo, fiddle, and mandolin, and there isn’t any musical turn here that wouldn’t sound out of place in a Stanley Brothers classic. One marked difference with this band compared to purist bluegrass would be the presence of electric bass in the mix instead of an upright, but this is a small distinction. It’s clear hearing this single that the band has a complete knowledge of bluegrass and gospel.
The multipart harmony vocals powering that facet of the song is a definite highlight. Guitarist Randy Spencer is the band’s lead singer, but four of the five band members are capable singers, and it makes for a package that few will quibble with. The song’s lyrics are culled from tradition and poetic without ever employing high-flown language. It’s songwriting in touch with the sentiments of its subject rather than attempting to serve up audience-pleasing patter and nothing more.
King James Boys possess wide-ranging musical instincts. You can hear it on a micro-level in each song passage; the band never goes on too long and tailors their words to serve the music and vice versa. You hear it in the overall structure of “The Devil’s Not Afraid of a Dusty Bible”, as well, thanks to the band applying the same discipline to the overall presentation. It is undoubtedly informed by their skill, but their faith is just as important.
It’s important to note, as well, that even non-believers can come away from this song with a good feeling. There is no evangelizing in the lyrics, no judgments, and you can’t help but come away by how beautifully their faith manifests itself in the music. If you have not heard The King James Boys and don’t consider yourself a Christian, don’t let that dissuade you. They offer up magic for anyone who appreciates musical art.
If you have had the good fortune to hear them perform, don’t let this single pass you by. “The Devil’s Not Afraid of a Dusty Bible” is inspired by a long tradition in both bluegrass and gospel music and the King James Boys bring it together with their exceptional gifts. Their music brings a ray of redemptive light into an increasingly dark world without ever making you feel uncomfortable. Let us hope this single enjoys the success it deserves, and we hear more soon from this exemplary unit.
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