The Blind Boys of Alabama - Take the High Road
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Take the High Road (Saguaro Road, 2011)

The Blind Boys of Alabama

Reviewed by Kevin Oliver

A country-themed album from black gospel legends Blind Boys of Alabama might at first seem a calculated record label ploy to cross genre lines and generate wider interest, but using Jamey Johnson as a producer ensures that nothing even close to mainstream country music made the final cut.

Instead, Johnson takes the Blind Boys' natural Jubilee-style gospel quartet sound and augments it with a little twang here, a little blues there, resulting in a hybrid of American music that's both spiritual and spirited.

The Oak Ridge Boys almost take the spotlight from the headliners on the title song, which unfortunately ends up resembling one of their 80's country hits a little too much. The Blind Boys show them how it's done on the Albert Brumley classic Jesus, Hold My Hand, however, and Johnson comes to their aid on a Charlie Rich-like Have Thine Own Way, Lord.

The guests keep coming, from Lee Ann Womack on the bluesy I Was A Burden to Vince Gill, Willie Nelson and Hank Williams, Jr. on a program of traditional tunes and several new compositions from Johnson and Randy Kohrs, but the irrepressible harmonies of the Blind Boys throughout keep this from becoming a Santana-esque parade of stars. For them, the focus is right where it should be - on the gospel message in this music.

CDs by The Blind Boys of Alabama

Take the High Road, 2011

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