Saturday, September 29, 2007

Subtle but distinctive country flavor makes this more than just another recycling of praise and worship songs

Songs 4 Worship: Country
Artists: Various
Label: Time Life (http://www.timelife.com/)
Time: 16 tracks/73:03 minutes

Since its debut in 2000, the Songs 4 Worship series has sold more than nine million units. On this recording the series unites country music stars with some of today’s best worship songs.

The CD consists of first-time performances (except for Rascal Flatts) of four original compositions and thirteen praise and worship songs done in a light country style. This includes a few soulful gospel tracks.

The performances are excellent; the only downside being that many of the songs are now overly familiar. The pedal steel guitars, when present, are toned down. The artists give slightly understated performances of songs that can sometimes be overly dramatic, which makes these versions sound fresh. They have a broad appeal. You don’t have to be a country music fan to enjoy this CD.

There are many wonderful moments. Charlie Daniels does a rock version of "Awesome God" that gives new life to this contemporary classic. It opens with the sound of a lone fiddle playing the chorus.

"He Ain’t the Leaving Kind" by Rascall Flatts is modern country at its best. Such a strong performance leaves you wanting to hear more from this multi-platinum group. This is the song they performed at the 2007 Academy of Country Music Awards show to honor the victims of the Virginia Tech shootings.

When I think of Ricky Skaggs, I think of bluegrass, but "We All Bow Down" is a beautiful, worship ballad. It’s a memorable song that he performed at the dedication of the Billy Graham Library in North Carolina.

Trinecia Butler renders an inspired version of "How Great Is Our God," and The Wilsons, a three-sister group, reinvent the "Doxology" with their stirring a cappella harmonies.

This collection highlights the special relationship that has long-existed between country and gospel music. The subtle but distinctive country flavor heard in the songs makes this more than just another recycling of praise and worship songs.
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