Various Artists: Songs 4 Worship: Country Live

Various_Songs4WorshipCountryLiveFine collection of worship, but not all country

The extensive and popular Songs 4 Worship series has included themed and Spanish-language releases as well as soul, gospel and country sets. Like 2007’s edition, this collection of live performances (recorded at the Ryman Auditorium) often strays far from country sounds. The opening track by Lenny LeBlanc is a fine song of praise, but the presence of steel guitar doesn’t keep it country. The gospel of the Palmetto State Quartet’s “Trading My Sorrows” is terrific, rousing the crowd into clapping, but again there’s really nothing country in it. Crossover artists Rebecca Lynn Howard and Bryan White are both in good voice but fail to deliver on their country roots, and even the rootsy stalwart Ricky Skaggs is softened by the stage band’s accompaniment. Where the show plants some roots is with Collin Raye, whose bluesy delivery gives a twangy front to the band’s performance. Marty Raybon also finds some country soul in the his lower register. Ironically, the album’s most countrified tracks are studio cuts borrowed from earlier albums by Randy Travis, Alison Krauss, Diamond Rio and Alabama. The live band fits nicely behind the album’s live acts, but it fails to make the country singers sound country. This is all the more obvious when compared to the studio cuts. This is a good album of worship and praise, with plenty of energy in the live performances, just note that most of the twang is in the previously released studio tracks. [©2009 hyperbolium dot com]

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