Songs of Inspiration

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Barnes & Noble - David McGee
Finally bringing to fruition an idea incubating since 1990, Alabama deliver a moving set of 15 inspirational numbers, which include not only beloved old standards such as "Amazing Grace" and "In the Garden" but also Red Foley's "Old Shep," the Sunday School staple "Jesus Loves Me," and the enduring Christmas carol "Silent Night." Unlike their usual mega-produced corporate country-rock, Alabama here opt for a spare, low-key approach. The album personnel includes a wealth of strings and woodwinds and a long roster of background singers, but these are employed in a subdued manner. Often framed by only a single instrument, Randy Owen's expressive baritone is even richer for ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David McGee
Finally bringing to fruition an idea incubating since 1990, Alabama deliver a moving set of 15 inspirational numbers, which include not only beloved old standards such as "Amazing Grace" and "In the Garden" but also Red Foley's "Old Shep," the Sunday School staple "Jesus Loves Me," and the enduring Christmas carol "Silent Night." Unlike their usual mega-produced corporate country-rock, Alabama here opt for a spare, low-key approach. The album personnel includes a wealth of strings and woodwinds and a long roster of background singers, but these are employed in a subdued manner. Often framed by only a single instrument, Randy Owen's expressive baritone is even richer for being so naked in the mix -- he's never sounded more emotionally invested in the material than he does here. Backed mostly by a lone piano on "How Great Thou Art," Owen energizes this towering hymn of praise by stripping it of bombast and letting the lyrics breathe, underscoring the power of the commitment expressed therein. On "In the Garden," he's backed by a gently strummed acoustic guitar on the first verse, and the tenderness in his relatively unadorned voice is stirring; eventually brush drums, mandolin, organ, piano, and a small choir enter, but so discreetly their presence barely registers. The album closes with two Owen originals. The country-flavored gospel ballad "One Big Heaven" finds Owen's ragged vocal buttressed by sprinkles of piano and organ flourishes before it's joined by a full-bodied choir and strings, as he imagines an afterlife Utopia in which all creeds live in harmony; "Rain," the closing track, brings the full electrified band into play, with guitars snarling and drums thumping, as Owen petitions the Lord for restorative grace for his barren soul. Disarming and direct, Songs of Inspiration is Alabama at their best.
All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
By and large, 2006's Songs of Inspiration, Alabama's first foray into gospel music, is quiet and respectful, a record made with care and precision but certainly not without heart. The reverent tone may be reminiscent of Alan Jackson's spiritual album Precious Memories -- released eight months before Songs of Inspiration -- but where Jackson sought out unfamiliar traditional tunes, Alabama stick with the familiar, singing such standards as "His Eye Is on the Sparrow," "In the Garden," "Amazing Grace," "How Great Thou Art," "Jesus Loves Me," and "Rock of Ages," even finding ways to work "Silent Night" and Red Foley's "Old Shep" into the mix. Their arrangements are straightforward, slow, and spare, emphasizing their still-strong harmonies, and they serve the songs well, even if they do wind up sounding a bit samey. Naturally, this means that when they pick up the tempo, those songs tend to boldly stand out, which the rip-roaring duet with bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley on "I Am the Man Thomas" and Randy Owen's surging original "Rain" -- the song here that comes closest to the patented Alabama sound -- certainly do. These songs are so strong that it's hard not to wish that there were just a couple more like them, since that would give Songs of Inspiration a variety that would be welcome, but even without them this is a fine record, one that's expertly executed yet also clearly heartfelt.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 10/24/2006
  • Label: Rca
  • UPC: 886970053228
  • Catalog Number: 700532

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 His Eye Is on the Sparrow (4:10)
  2. 2 In the Garden (3:28)
  3. 3 Amazing Grace (3:35)
  4. 4 How Great Thou Art (4:26)
  5. 5 I Need Thee (2:09)
  6. 6 Old Shep (3:06)
  7. 7 Jesus Loves Me (3:19)
  8. 8 Silent Night (3:31)
  9. 9 I Am the Man Thomas (2:02)
  10. 10 Rock of Ages (2:36)
  11. 11 In the Sweet By and By (3:28)
  12. 12 The Old Rugged Cross (3:09)
  13. 13 What Will I Leave Behind (2:40)
  14. 14 One Big Heaven (4:16)
  15. 15 Rain (3:35)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Alabama Primary Artist
Ralph Stanley Vocals
Gary Prim Organ, Synthesizer, Piano, Hammond Organ
Eddie Bayers Percussion, Drums
Mark Casstevens Acoustic Guitar, Banjo, Dobro, Harmonica
Jeff Cook Vocals
David Davidson Violin
Connie Ellisor Violin
Kim Fleming Vocals
Theodore Gentry Vocals
Carl Gorodetzky Concert Master
Anthony LaMarchina Cello
Joey Miskulin Accordion
Randy Owen Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Vocals
Larry Paxton Guitar, Electric Bass, Electric Guitar, Acoustic Bass, Guitar (Nylon String)
Pamela Sixfin Violin
Alan Umstead Violin
Gary VanOsdale Viola
Mary Kathryn Van Osdale Violin
Aubrey Haynie Fiddle, Mandolin
Steve Sparkman Banjo
James Alan Shelton Guitar
Ben Isaacs Vocals
Randy Kohrs Acoustic Guitar, Dobro
Bruce Christensen Viola
Belinda Wallace Background Vocals
Melinda Doolittle Vocals
Christopher Farrell Viola
Rebecca Isaacs Bowman Vocals
Bailey Barnes Background Vocals
Karstin Brewis Background Vocals
Kensley Brewis Background Vocals
Dewey Brown III Fiddle
Carson Burt Background Vocals
Sawyer Burt Background Vocals
Kirsten Cassl Cello
Michael A. Curtis Background Vocals
Ella Fowler Background Vocals
Abby Fraebel Background Vocals
Griffin Horton Background Vocals
Kaden Horton Background Vocals
Carolyn Huebel Violin
Nathan Isaacs Vocals
Alexis Lutz Background Vocals
Emma Lutz Background Vocals
Jesse Lutz Background Vocals
Tyler Newton Background Vocals
Nathan Stanley Mandolin
Nathan Young Vocals
Technical Credits
Ralph Stanley Composer
Red Foley Composer
Franz Gruber Composer
Thomas Hastings Composer
Mike Bradley Engineer
Mark Capps Engineer
John Newton Composer
Randy Owen Arranger, Composer, Producer, Audio Production
Larry Paxton String Arrangements
Kristin Wilkinson String Arrangements
Robert Lowry Composer
Wade Hunt Art Direction
Tony Castle Digital Editing
Joseph Mohr Composer
George Bernard Composer
Greg Fowler Cover Photo
Alan Maggard Engineer
Dale Morris Management
Ed Turner Engineer
Traditional Composer
Stuart K. Hine Composer
Andrew Mendelson Mastering
C. Austin Miles Composer
Charles H. Gabriel Composer
Judy Forde Blair Liner Notes, Creative Producer
Gena Gowler Direction
Jim Price Digital Editing
Jason Lefan Digital Editing, overdub engineer
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