Atlantic Records, 2000
REVIEW BY: Michael Ehret
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 11/28/2000
I've never been a fan of Randy Travis' kind of country music -- or of his deep-registered voice. I like my country music a bit more pop-flavored and my male singers with more of a tenor, soulful, sound. But, that said, Travis' foray into inspirational music is still a pleasing listen.
A highlight is the song "Baptism," written by Mickey Cates. It captures the reality of a young boys' baptism experience and creates a comforting, warm, almost-like-being-there type of feeling while listening.
"Then it was down with the old man Up with the new Raised to walk in the ways of light and truth I didn't see no angels Just a few saints on the shore But I felt like a newborn baby Cradled up in the arms of the Lord"
Travis doesn't fall into the trap of treating religion as something you can only hold with white kid gloves. He includes several up-tempo songs along with the more traditional slower paced, reflective, songs.
Among the better of these is the Ron Block song, "Which Way Will You Choose," which presents the listener with making the choice between following Jesus -- or following Satan in the post-Rapture world popularized through the Left Behind series of novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. It presents the classic "all or nothing" of the choice in a very forthright manner.
Country music has long been known for "story songs" and here Travis gives his listeners one of the best in "Drive Another Nail," the story of a non-Christian carpenter who's retiring and doesn't want to "drive another nail." But he realizes, at an Easter Sunday service, that his sin was responsible for driving the nails into Jesus Christ's hands when he was crucified.
Not every song is a winner on this project. "See Myself In You" has a rather obscure meaning and the connection to an album of inspirational music is not immediately clear. "Feet On The Rock" starts off with a hokey spoken word intro and then segues into a little rock and roll shuffle that never really makes a mark. "Don't Ever Sell Your Saddle" is pure cornball and platitudes from a Western point of view.
Still, the disc is a largely pleasant experience and "The Carpenter," recorded with Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter, is a true vocal treat. When Travis starts in on "Amazing Grace," you can almost picture him out on the prairie with nothing but an old, worn, guitar and the wide, wide sky.
It's a beautiful moment.