Saturday, April 18, 2009

Then Sings My Soul: 24 Favorite Hymns & Gospel Songs - Ronnie Milsap

Country star shines on first gospel release

Then Sings My Soul: 24 Favorite Hymns & Gospel Songs
Artist: Ronnie Milsap (http://www.ronniemilsap.com/)
Label: Star Song Music
Length: 2 CDs (24 tracks/84:04 minutes)

It was just a matter to time. Country music star Ronnie Milsap knew that he would record a gospel album, he just didn’t know when.

His timing is appropriate. These are difficult days, and there is a comfort in songs that not only highlight gospel truths but also bring back fond memories. These songs have served as the soundtrack for many adults, especially while they were growing up. It would be a mistake though to just associate these songs with sentimental thoughts of the past. Their sometimes simple but timeless revelations still speak to those who have eyes to see and ears to hear.

They made a lasting impression on Milsap when he was only young. After being abandoned by his mother and told that his blindness was a curse from God, he grew up with his grandparents who loved him and took him to church. That was where he first heard songs of faith and discovered that he could memorize music quickly. As an adult, he has sung, “The Old Rugged Cross” for years, but has only now recorded it.

This 2 CD collection has both the popular and the lesser know. Alongside classics like “How Great Thou Art,” “Amazing Grace” and “Holy, Holy, Holy,” you get wonderful versions of “Father Along,” “Peace in the Valley” and “Swing Down Chariot.” There are also three new songs plus the contemporary songs, “Soon and Very Soon,” “Stand By Me” and “People Get Ready.”

The arrangements are reverent with subtle creativity. One refreshing departure is a slowed-down “I’ll Fly Away,” which is graced with a beautiful piano bridge. It breathes new life into an often-recorded song.

The music has a timeless quality that is a hybrid of country, gospel and pop. Milsap is one of country music’s most successful crossover artists into the world of pop. That skill is in evidence here, which gives this broad appeal. You don’t have to be a country music fan to enjoy this.

It’s amazing that his voice is in such fine form and that he sings with such warmth at the age of 66. The renditions are all excellent, and especially beautiful when he sings tenderly.

In an interview with Andy Argyrakis, Milsap expressed his desire for this recording, “I hope that they (gospel audiences) believe what they hear, because it’s real. It’s really me at this time in my life, and I hope they will open their hearts and accept me.” He’s made a believer out of me, and this release ought to be widely-embraced by the Christian community. It’s a feast for lovers of hymns and gospel music. I hope for more recordings like this from this talented artist.
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