Lost in Time is a beautiful musical salute to longtime AFM 257 member, pianist, arranger, and recording artist Bill Pursell, who passedin 2020 at the age of 94. This album began as a tribute to Bill’s wife of many years, Julie, who passed in 2018. After Pursell’s passing, his daughter, vocalist Laura Pursell, continued to work on this project with producer Steve Mauldin. The end result is a heartfelt musical journey celebrating one of Music City’s most talented musicians and composers. Bill Pursell was perhaps best known for his 1963 hit single “Our Winter Love,” but he also worked with Patsy Cline, Chet Atkins, Johnny Cash, Marty Robbins, and many others over the years. He was a good man with many talents, and this album more than lives up to his high standards.
Pursell played piano on three songs, and arranged four songs, with the rest arranged by Mauldin. The excellent session musicians on the project include Pat Bergeson on rhythm guitar, Tom Hemby and Jerry Kimbrough on electric guitar, Jim Ferguson on bass, and Paul Leim on drums. Bob Marler and Jason Webb ably filled the piano chair on the rest of the album. The 18-piece string and horn ensemble includes many of Nashville’s best studio players and was led by David Davidson and David Angell.
Throughout the album, all of the musicians played wonderfully, and Mauldin did a great job of pulling it all together in a way that would make Bill proud.
The album opens with “Every Love.” Sweet strings and tasty piano surround Laura Pursell’s soulful vocal and set the uplifting tone for the whole album. The classic “Motherless Child” is given a driving gospel-tinged treatment with Pursell’s piano at the fore, and the call-and-response background voices provide a spooky backdrop. “Where Do You Start” is a plea for understanding of the complexities of love, with a passionate vocal by Laura Pursell, and a beautiful arrangement by Mauldin. Patsy Cline’s “Sweet Dreams” is given a lush string and horn arrangement that takes the country classic to a whole new place.
Bill Pursell’s original composition “Lilacs (Lost in Time)” was his final studio performance, and the song, his performance, as well as Laura’s vocal and arrangement are absolutely stunning. “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground,” is a great reinvention of the Willie Nelson hit, and demonstrates the wide range of musical ground Bill Pursell covered during his long and illustrious career. The album closes with Bill’s final composition and piano performance, “Tender Wish,” which is the perfect finish to a heartfelt and emotional album in tribute to a fine man and great musician. — Roy Montana