Elvis springs to mind. He may have been "The King of Rock and Roll," but he brought such soul to inspirational songs. For all the music people more commonly associate with the King, "(There'll Be) Peace in the Valley (For Me)" stands among his very best recordings.
And so it is with Kenny Rogers. After more than a half-century career that has spanned country, folk, rock, pop and a bit of psychedelia, the 72-year-old music icon released his first gospel album last month.
"The Love of God" was released March 7 and is available exclusively at Cracker Barrel Old Country Store locations.
When Rogers brings his trademark husky moan to bear on a gospel song, the results are amazing.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the album is how perfect the arrangement choices are. On traditional gospel numbers like "Will the Circle Be Unbroken," "I'll Fly Away" and "What a Friend We Have in Jesus," the accompaniment is either a traditional bluegrass arrangement or simple acoustic guitar.
For contemporary numbers like the title track and "Peace," Rogers uses modern arrangements.
And the most moving number on the record is the last, as Rogers' voice stands alone to deliver "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms." It's the perfect end to a touching compilation.
My only complaint with the album -- and it's a minor one -- is I could have used more. At 43 minutes, Rogers could have given us a whole lot more.
His choices of contemporary songs and arrangements are perfectly fine, but this listener could have gone for an hour or so of Kenny's voice and traditional, acoustic music.
But let's not sell it short -- this is a good record.
My spin: A-
It's amazing that it took Kenny Rogers 53 years in the recording industry to get around to a gospel album. His style is the perfect fit, and "The Love of God" proves it.
Rogers has struck gold with this peaceful and uplifting album. Let's hope another is in the works.