Album of the Year 2019

Lifeline: Music of the Underground Railroad

Lifeline Quartet, Michael Fitzgerald, Michelle Mayne-Graves, Quinton Fitzgerald, Walter Penniman II

(4 press reviews)
Original Recording Format: Analog Tape
Learn about choosing Quality and Channels

Michelle Mayne-Graves and her Lifeline Quartet perform spirituals from the Civil War and earlier celebrating code songs for the Underground Railroad. These spirituals include hidden messages about maps, navigational strategies and timing for slaves to escape toward freedom in the Northern States and Canada.

For the Lifeline Quartet’s debut album, Yarlung chose “If I Can Help Somebody” to be the opening track. This song not only honors Harriet Tubman, but reveals Michelle’s generous heart as well. Harriet Tubman is one of the better known heroes who escaped slavery herself and then worked as a “conductor” on the Underground Railroad, helping subsequent groups of people flee to the North.

“Wade in the Water” serves as a reminder of where to walk in the rivers to make it harder for dogs to scent people escaping at night. “I’m On My Way to Canaan’s Land” talks about the route to Canada.

Michelle lives what she sings. In addition to directing choirs, performing spirituals and helping to coordinate and lead veterans singing groups, Michelle Mayne-Graves supervises a team and works as a nurse assisting homeless veterans at the Veteran’s Administration in Los Angeles.



Please note that the below previews are loaded as 44.1 kHz / 16 bit.
If I Can Help Somebody
Steal Away To Jesus
Canaan's Land - Fare Ye Well Medley
Wade In The Water
Talk About A Child
Hold On To The Gospel Plow
Nobody Knows The Trouble I've Seen (Ola's Song)
Down By The Riverside
Motherless Child
Ain't Goin' To Let Nobody - Joshua Fit De' Battle
Deep River
Saints' Medley

Total time: 00:36:41

Additional information





, , ,


, ,


, , , ,




Analog Recording Equipment

SonoruS ATR12 Analog Tape Recorder

Digital Converters

Hapi by Merging Technologies

Mastering Engineer

Steve Hoffman & Bob Attiyeh (Stereo & Surround Sound), Tom Caulfield (DSD Stereo & DSD Surround Sound)

Microphone Preamps

Elliot Midwood

Microphone Technician

David Bock


Ted Ancona’s famous “Frank Sinatra” AKG C-24 vacuum tube stereo microphone and two additional mid-hall Ted Ancona Schoeps M222 vacuum tube omnidirectional mono microphones from Ancona Audio


DSD 512 Stereo files created by Tom Calulfield at the NativeDSD Mastering Lab using Jussi Laako's modulators from Signalyst

Original Recording Format


Bob Attiyeh

Recording Engineer

Bob Attiyeh & Arian Jansen

Recording Location

Samueli Theater, Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Costa Mesa, California on October 27, 2018

Recording Software

Pyramix by Merging Technologies

Recording Type & Bit Rate

Analog (Stereo), DSD 256 (Surround Sound)

Release DateJuly 19, 2019

Press reviews

NativeDSD – 2019 Album of the Year – Spiritual 5 out of 5

On Lifeline, Yarlung producer Bob Attiyeh and special advisor Billy Mitchell wanted to bring the spiritual music of the civil war era to music fans. Yarlung tells us that the album features songs that include hidden messages about maps, navigational strategies, and timing for slaves to escape toward freedom in the Northern States and Canada.

To do bring listeners the full passion and impact of these songs, you need special artists. With the Lifeline Quartet led by Michelle Mayne-Graves, Yarlung has found such a group of talented, soulful, and passionate performers.

Once you hear their renditions of songs like Wade In The Water, this album will be heading to your collection in Stereo DSD (up to DSD 512) and Multichannel DSD (up to DSD 256). It’s compelling music with stellar sound quality to match. A true highlight from this year’s NativeDSD releases.

Positive Feedback 5 out of 5

Yarlung Records is always full of surprises, and Lifeline: Music of the Underground Railroad is no exception. Bob Attiyeh, award-winning President of the label, brought it to my attention, explaining its unique and extraordinary meaning. Bob’s tastes are broader and generally superior to mine, and his recommendations always pan out. His hands-on recording techniques, minimalist use of tube microphones, and recording produce a consistent you-are-there presentation that one must take seriously.

I listened, my ears immersed in this album over and over and heard more nuance and beauty with each play. Just knowing the significance of these spirituals for unaccompanied voices was road maps and directions coded in music for slaves on the run to Canada before and during the Civil War made it unreal and poignant. These pieces will move you in ways you cannot know until you listen to them.

Wait until you hear “Steal Away,” a plea to slaves to attempt escape, filled with melodious beauty and special lyrics. Recorded live in a single unedited session, voices are rounded and palpable in perfect imaging on a virtual stage in your listening room. Astounding.

“Wade in the Water” again suggests how to ford the streams and rivers. With just four voices, a choral sound suggesting eight voices emerges with energy and dimension giving the listener the sense of real-life in real space. I am an audiophile, and Lifeline is a reference album of the highest level. Bob Attiyeh and his team demonstrate taste levels of the highest order.

I was most gratified by how superbly alive Lifeline is produced by my system. My favorite cut? “Don’t Let Nobody Turn You Around.” You just want to sing along and cry.

A must own reference quality recording.
Music “A,” Recording “A+”

NativeDSD Listener

I am a Pyramix user and sound engineer. I bought Lifeline: Music of the Underground Railroad in Stereo and Multichannel DSD 256. It is simply beautiful and wonderful!!! Thank you.


A Capella at it’s finest! I’ve already listened to this twice and I am In love with it! Great harmonies and fascinating stories behind these “code songs”. Michelle Mayne-Graves and the guys are powerfully blessed deliverers of this magic!


There are no reviews yet.

Only logged in customers who have purchased this product may leave a review.

More from this label

From Analog Tape

If you Love for Beauty vol. II

Sasha Cooke

From Analog Tape

Frederic Rosselet

Frederic Rosselet

From Analog Tape

Smoke & Mirrors Vanish Vol 2

Smoke and Mirrors Percussion Ensemble

From Analog Tape

Mahler Symphony No. 5

The Colburn Orchestra