"Problems at my home, I've got to press on/Problems on my job, I've got to press on/When I'm down to my last dime, I've got to press on/When I don't have my friends, I've got to press on"
— from "Pressing My Way"

Listening to the six extended jam sessions on Live at the Wetlands has an electrifying, almost dizzying effect on listeners, but one that nonetheless sweeps away your cares and worries thanks to Robert Randolph's steel guitar mastery. Perhaps the album's inspiring elements are due in part to Randolph's Christian upbringing at the Pentecostal–based House of God Church in New Jersey where he not only grew in faith, but in steel guitar proficiency. "There's a long history of guys playing at my church, playing lap steels and pedal steels throughout the years," Randolph says. "It's one instrument that you would always see people play there, so I just felt like playing it."

The talented musician and his three equally impressive bandmates (who play drums, bass, and B–3 organ) have helped foster a new interest in the "sacred steel" movement — a fusing of gospel, country, and blues that is slowly finding a new audience. The unique and successful sound has afforded Robert Randolph and co. opportunities to back The Blind Boys of Alabama on their Higher Ground album, tour with John Mayer, and play at the final show in the now defunct New York club for which this disc was named. Throughout the album's 70 minutes of concert footage, the words are few and far between, with the majority of his musings steeped in instrumental jamming.

There are, however, some instances of sung dialogue, such as the aura of unconditional perseverance surrounding "Pressing My Way" (cited above). In addition to the joyful steel guitar and organ solos, the jam soars to new heights when bassist Danyel Morgan lends his very feminine sounding vocals to the mix, sounding as though he were pulled straight from a gospel choir: "I feel like pressing on my way/Through the storm/Through the rain/I feel like pressing my way."

Though tracks such as "Ted's Jam" and "The March" are completely instrumental, they are nonetheless inspirational, putting listeners into a gleeful, perhaps even praiseworthy mood. It's even safe to say, based on video concert footage, that Randolph's playing literally gets people dancing and rejoicing as though they were in a Pentecostal church! "Most of the ministers will tell you that it's wrong, but I'm doing it basically for the instrument," he explains. "So many people don't know what pedal steel is and what you can do with it. It's been hidden for so long. I'm trying to get it out there and make it as well–known as possible." It's a joyful noise indeed.

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.