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Hank Locklin

By the Grace of God – 2006 (Yell)

Reviewed by Larry Stephens

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CDs by Hank Locklin

Hank Locklin, a stalwart of the classical country music scene and the Grand Ole Opry, brings us an all-gospel album. It's amazing that a singer at 88 can be in such good voice. If you want to be picky you can at times hear difficulty in hitting some of the notes but he sounds remarkably like he did 50 years ago. He's joined on several tracks by such recognizable names as the Oak Ridge Boys and the Jordanaires. His son, Hank Adam also contributes several tracks, and they include a five-track bonus acoustic section clearly recorded separately from the main section.

Locklin wrote most of the songs over a 23-year period, although several old standards ("Gloryland Way," "Amazing Grace") are also included. The songs reflect his personal journey as a Christian and, with the personal attachment to the message, the results are a little uneven. "Right Out of A Clear Blue Sky" opens with twin fiddles, features Pig Robbins on the piano and has the feel and arrangement of a great country song, as does "From Thorns to Feathers." Some of the other songs, though undoubtedly a reflection of his personal walk, are less complex and probably would not have made the cut for a purely commercial album.

Hank Adam, undeniably an inheritor of his father's voice, does well with his contributions. Besides singing, he arranged a number of the tracks. Also backing on rhythm guitar and tic tac bass is Jimmy Capps, long a fixture on the Opry and around Nashville, and Boots Randolph. This is an CD every fan of Hank Locklin should have and the only complaint you're likely to voice is the skimpy insert.