Reviewed by Paul Poulton
Kicking off this set of famous artists singing gospel tunes is the mighty fine modern blues legend Jonny Lang, and you can safely bet your boots you're not likely to hear any finer modern yet authentic sounding blues than Jonny. He is helped by Fisk Jubilee Singers to nail down a near perfect cover of John P. Kees "I Believe". Clapton's 1969 song "Presence Of The Lord" has respect for original version and although I was never too keen on the song myself, 3 Doors Down's version is acceptable and enjoyable. The highlight of this joyful album is the Stevie Wonder song "Higher Ground", which was written at Stevie's creative peak. It doesn't seem to matter that reincarnation is the song's theme, the Clark Sisters & Robert Randolph make it their own and make it a fairly solid Christian song, while keeping the Hindu inspired lyric, i e we're all moving closer to the light and each day we become more like Christ, make what you will of the "last time on earth" phrase in the chorus, should be able to get a Christian slant on it somewhere in the bible without getting into trouble with church leaders. It's an even funkier version than the original, (if that's possible), most delightful. The whole album is well rounded even though different producers have been used, the guitars are thick, the percussion has depth and the vocals are wide. We may not be sure of the Christian commitment of Joss Stone, but the blue eyed soul singer creates so much rhythmic tension as she sings the old-time spiritual "This Little Light Of Mine" it's hard to stay with it but compulsive at the same time. Al Green performs "People Get Ready" another song that gets the over-use treatment in the Church community, I've never been too keen on Curtis Mayfield's oldie either but again Al's interpretation overcame my prejudice. It's good. The songs on this various artists set lean towards blues phrasing and gospel groove. One song that breaks rank in this is the African feeling "Redemption Song". It sounds out of place here though it is well performed by Angelique Kidjo. Surprisingly the title track is has the least life to it of all the songs, it lacks the energy and spark of the other impressive covers.
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