Back in the good old days when country music was primarily about alcoholism and adultery, most mainstream artists would include one or two gospel songs on every album - just a little Sunday morning to go with all the Saturday nighting on the other tracks. T. Graham Brown reverses that format on his ninth studio album and first in nine years. One or two tunes on this CD are not as overtly Christian in nature and could be possibly pass as secular. (Though admittedly it would take a very special human lover who would "forgive your every wrong" as in "Pillow of Mercy")
But all in all, it's safe to say "Forever Changed" is a gospel record. In fact, it was nominated for a Grammy in the brand new category of Roots Gospel. And it's not really a surprise that TGB would do a gospel album. His is one of the most soulful voices in country music and soul is never far removed from gospel. One of his most popular hits - "Wine into Water" - actually is a prayer. And check out the CD cover, the man has the strong, benevolent gaze and aura of hard-won wisdom -- not to mention the awesome hair and sideburns -- of an Old Testament prophet.
Brown makes no bones about his Christianity, the man from Galilee takes top spot on a long thank you list in the liner notes, but all you need to enjoy most of these songs is a belief in some higher power and a love of great music. "Soul Talk" is all about finding sacredness in nature. "The Power of Love" does not necessarily emanate from the Prince of Peace. And even atheists will appreciate the all-star line-up of talent helping T. Graham out here - Vince Gill, The Oak Ridge Boys, Leon Russell and more.
. The only misstep here is including a new version of "Wine into Water," which only showcases the fact that his still-powerful baritone voice has paid a price for making it through those hard years.