"Dark clouds a'risin'/Thunder bolts a'rollin'/Master Jesus ridin' around/With a rainbow 'round his shoulders/Seek on, oh, seeker/Come go to glory with me/And you shall wear a starry crown/Come join the band of angels"
— from "Rain Come Down"

Kat Maslich and Peter Adams—the duo known as eastmountainsouth—are multi–talented singer/songwriters who both hail from the South and met in Los Angeles. Maslich comes from a musical family in Virginia where her mother, a retired music teacher, regularly performed in church. Though Kat played in some hardcore bands as a teen, she maintained a love for bluegrass. At 21, she moved to L.A. to pursue a music career. Taking odd jobs to support her endeavor—including hairstylist and (brace yourself) porn store employee—Maslich struck out musically and considered returning to Virginia like a Prodigal Daughter.

Enter Alabama–raised Peter Adams, also from a musical family. Adams studied piano and keyboard from an early age, leading to competitions and advanced studies as an undergrad and at the post–graduate level, even studying abroad in Germany. On the side, Adams played in an R&&B band. Unsure of his future as a music scholar, he moved to L.A. to study film scoring, eventually meeting Maslich and discovering that their voices and musical tastes blended extremely well.

The result is an intriguing mix of folk/bluegrass with some decidedly modern production. Imagine if the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack was produced by Peter Gabriel, or if Cliff and Danielle Young (Caedmon's Call) released an edgy folk–pop project. Fans of Rickie Lee Jones, Nickel Creek, and Over the Rhine are sure to eat this up. The great Robbie Robertson also liked what he heard, enough to help sign them to DreamWorks. The self–titled debut was recorded at the project studio of whiz producer Mitchell Froom (Elvis Costello, Los Lobos, Crowded House).

The album opens with Stephen Foster's classic "Hard Times," covered by many Christian folk and gospel artists over the years. An expression of our need for God's grace and mercy, the arrangement features acoustic and electric guitars, fiddle, mandola, and harmonium, mixed into something altogether modern. "Still Runnin," inspired by Annie Dillard's essay "God in the Doorway," has Maslich singing, "For you meant only love and love, and I felt only fear and pain/So once in Israel love came, and we were all afraid." Then comes "All the Stars," a tribute to a deceased loved one that could be interpreted as a nod to Christ's sacrifice.

Another highlight is "Show Me the River," a plaintive cry of homesickness and confession that resembles the work of Caedmon's Call: "I've been a traveler of far away lands/I've got love on my mind, but death on these hands/Come homeward angel, show me the way/Or will fate leave me dead in the tracks where I lay?" Based on a traditional folk song, "Rain Come Down" (excerpted above) offers the most clear–cut example of spirituality, and "Mark's Song" offers a bittersweet benediction to a lost loved one: "There's no more harm in your savior's arms/See you fly away in the sky/Did you hear the call of angels one and all/May you find your way in peace."

Gospel is historically intertwined with American folk and bluegrass, so it's hard to tell if these songs are personal to Maslich and Adams. Many artists sing gospel more for the sake of history and nostalgia rather than as a personal expression of faith. Nevertheless, Maslich and Adams apparently come from religious families, and they now sing songs sprinkled with Christianity. For believers, eastmountainsouth offers plenty to savor.

Unless specified clearly, we are not implying whether this artist is or is not a Christian. The views expressed are simply the author's. For a more complete description of our Glimpses of God articles, click here.