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Billy Joe Shaver

Everybody's Brother – 2007 (Compadré)

Reviewed by Rev. Keith A. Gordon

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CDs by Billy Joe Shaver

There's often a fine line between sin and salvation and, like most outlaws, Billy Joe Shaver has one foot in the honky tonk and one in the church pew. Shaver has long expressed the desire to record a "gospel" album and it's fitting...the same weathered voice that speaks convincingly of barrooms and broken hearts is also perfectly suited for singing the praises of Jesus. And it's not like religion is a little-traveled path for Shaver; he has typically included a spiritual song on each album through the years.

Here, however, Shaver focuses more on salvation, bringing friends like Kris Kristofferson, John Anderson, Marty Stuart, Bill Miller and Tanya Tucker along for the joyous ride. Listeners expecting a collection of staid church hymns will be disappointed; although "Everybody's Brother" has its loftier moments, much of the material approaches God from the sinner's side of the fence, and songs like the rollicking duet with Stuart, "Winning Again," wouldn't feel out of place in a beer-soaked honky-tonk.

Shaver's performances, captured by producer John Carter Cash, are heartfelt and passionate while the album's closer, a late '70s duet with Johnny Cash and a 15-year-old Eddy Shaver burning up the guitar, will put a smile on the face of any listener.