To the uninitiated, there is a strong pocket of bluegrass up in the Pacific Northwest of North America. Far from Appalachia, the home of bluegrass, here in the marine rain gloom, there’s a deep country vibe, it’s green, and a love for endless spaces of wilderness and country life run deep along the north west coast. In Vancouver, BC, Canada, the gospel of Jesus Christ and the traditional sounds of bluegrass are coming from four women attendees of Westside Church, known as Heritage Hill. Banjos, harmonies, hand claps, and melodies pour forth in a group of original tunes written by Tiffany Haines, that proclaim the gospel in an easily digestible album, Out of the Sea. Members Grace Cheung, Sarah Miller, Natalie Lalonde, and Tiffany Haines have put out an album that is a complete delight for those who have love for traditional and neu grass.
A swath of harmonies and deeply blues tinged vocals open this record with the song, “Come All Ye Heavy Laden.” This song sounds like it could have been written and sung a million times in the last century, but is indeed an original by Tiffany Haines. Invoking images of the cross, with a starkly a cappella arrangement, with a few embellishments, this sets the stage for the rest of the album. “Sing Hallelujah” dives into a warm and friendly praise anthem. The rhythmic guitars and dancing piano provide a background that supports varied harmonies. Next we get into a knee slapping hoedown of “Death is Dead.” This tune invites one to frolic, leap, jump, hop or bounce over the grave of proverbial death with extreme exuberance. “Isaac” examines the comparison between ourselves and Abraham’s obedience with his son. “Adopted” jingles with an upbeat joy at prospect of being a part of God’s kingdom through Jesus Christ. “My Saviour’s Love” and “Oh My Soul” have more of a contemporary ‘neu bluegrass’ feel in arrangement. Tiffany’s vocals really shine in the final song, with rich timbre and delicate emotion, the heart of the entire record, deep calling to deep, is entrenched in “Oh My Soul.”
Out of the Sea was recorded at Westside Church in Vancouver, BC, produced by Brandon Dorsey and Heritage Hill with the help of Thom Peters on Banjo, Cole Friesen throwing down some nice guitar solos, Marc Willerton slinging multiple instruments, and Adam Cormier on drums. In addition to their lovely vocals, Sarah Miller provided piano, Grace Cheung guitar and vocals, and Natalie Lalonde with bass.
Should you get this? Yes. Absolutely yes. It is beautiful in texture, rich in the gospel, and the heart for Christ is readily apparent.