Zach Seibert’s voice gives me chills, serious goosebump, hair-raising, ones, but this new gospel album he and Todd Mathis (of American Gun) have recorded gives those chills a spiritual direction that’s in keeping with the subject matter at hand.
Epiphany encompasses four traditional tunes, three original songs each from Seibert and Mathis, and a familiar church hymn, “The Old Rugged Cross,” by George Bernard. Of the traditional selections, Seibert’s “Do Lord” takes the most liberties with the melody and the lyrics, transforming it from a summer camp staple to a gorgeous, lovingly rendered plea for divine intervention.
Mathis’ “Are You Ready” sounds like it could be a traditional Appalachian gospel song, its lines lifted from many a camp meeting or back country church service; play it next to the similarly executed “Go Tell it on the Mountain” and you’ll see what I mean.
They haven’t played together before this, but the voices of Mathis and Seibert fit together well, with the former’s twang bouncing off the latter’s raspy tones. It’s the antithesis of the classic duos like the Osborne Brothers or the Louvins, but it works in a way that makes the songs more believable, more authentic, and the bare-bones instrumentation (just two acoustic guitars with the occasional harmonica, banjo, and minimal overdubs) keeps that setting in place.
There have been hints of this kind of material from both Mathis and Seibert in the past. American Gun recorded “Wayfaring Stranger” on their first demo disc, and also offered up “Jesus Gave Us Rock ‘n’ Roll”, while Seibert’s sometimes faith-searching songs are all over his own albums, but throwing themselves fully into the process of exploring the religious side of the music they both play has resulted in a spirited take on spirituals for the rest of us to enjoy.