The Kreitzer family is the core of Northern Virginia’s All4Hym. Terri Kreitzer is the featured vocalist, her husband Chester harmonizes and plays rhythm guitar, and their youngest son Cory has been playing mandolin for about five years now with the group. Although their name accurately implies a dedication to gospel music, the band is versatile; on A New Day Dawning, they tackle a number of straight-ahead bluegrass numbers and other secular fare as well as bedrock gospel material.
It’s a fine album that plays to the band’s strengths. Expert production by IBMA Hall of Honor member J.D. Crowe--perhaps the most influential banjoist in modern bluegrass history—certainly helps make it so.
One of All4Hym’s strong points is a laid-back sound that doesn’t lose the message by frantically pushing the music up in your face. For that reason, Daniel Tyler’s “Cotton Dan” is an excellent kickoff–it’s near-Delta groove heightened by Crowe’s production touch and Aaron Murphy’s slinky steel resonator guitar work. The mournful ballad “I Can’t Say Goodbye” was penned by Chris and Heather Franks, who I met (along with Terri) at Nashcamp’s songwriting week in 2005. Terri’s honest delivery really sells this tune. Throughout the record, her singing is a highlight, and the band shines brightest on gentle songs like the two wonderful gospel numbers--Dee Shelton’s “I Play the Fool” and Terri‘s own “I Am the Vine.” But All4Hym isn‘t afraid of straight-ahead bluegrass like Jim Mills‘s “Pikeville Flood,” and there’s even an up-tempo reading of Stevie Nicks‘s “Gold Dust Woman.” It all works because the other musicians are no slouches—Cory gets good mandolin tone, Chester is a fine rhythm guitarist and armony singer, while Aaron Murphy has considerable talent as a guitarist as does Troy Stangle on banjo and Dan Murphy, holding it all together on bass.
Terri‘s sweet and haunting a cappella arrangement of “I Love You Lord” closes the record. Its almost Celtic-like quality is the perfect coda for this project. If you like music that is reverent, relaxed and worth repeated listening, All4Hym certainly delivers. I hope you all go out and see this true family success story soon!