** CLASSIC CHRISTIAN ALBUM ** Joey + Rory Feek "Inspired: Songs of Faith and Family" Album Review
Prime Cuts: The Preacher and the Stranger, Long Line of Love, I See Him
Two are better than one. Joey and Rory Feek have had firsthand experience of reaping the rewards of this Biblical truth from Ecclesiates 4:9. Prior to them singing together as a duo, each of them had their own pandering careers. Rory Lee Feek was a songwriter in Nashville who has penned country songs such as Easton Corbin's "A Little More Country Than That," Blake Shelton's "Some Beach" and Clay Walker's "The Chain of Love." But Feek hardly had the chance to allow his sturdy Kenny Chesney's tenor (without the nasal twang) to be heard. While wife Joey Martin Feek herself was struggling with her own recording career; her singles were unable to gain traction with radio and her debut album was shelved. However, when Joey & Rory appeared on the reality TV show "Can You Duet?" they wooed both the audience and judge Naomi Judd with their shimmering backwoods harmonies and their doting affections for each other. Together, they are an inseparable-dynamite. Though they didn't win, they left the show with a legion of fans and a recording contract. Their debut record together "The Life of a Song" debut in the top 10 in the Billboard country album chart. Their debut single "Cheater, Cheater" was a bona fide Top 30 country hit. Three country albums and a seasonal record later, the Feeks have partnered with Gaither Music to release their first inspirational/gospel album.
The titular "Inspired: Songs of Faith and Family" is indicative of the album's direction. The twelve cuts either deal with relationships within the family or they are expressions of their faith in Jesus Christ. Thus, what you have are well-chosen covers, some originals as well as hymns interspersed throughout the repertoire. The couple alternates between tracks with husband Rory taking on Paul Overstreet and Tom Schuyler's "Long Line of Love." One needs to perk up whenever the name Paul Overstreet is mentioned. Overstreet has a "long line" of crafting some of the most heart swelling paeans such as Randy Travis' "Forever and Ever Amen" & the Judds' "Love Can Build a Bridge." "Long Line of Love" is no exception; the song speaks of a lady dreading with uncertainties as she was being proposed by the protagonist. He then assures her that their love will last the passage of time because he comes from a line of Godly men who never say "quit." Imagine how strong our churches would be if we have such Godly tenacious men! Be prepared for some goose bump moments with "The Preacher and the Stranger" --- this song details a chilling conversation between a pastor and a man whose son has been killed in a traffic accident. Rory gives this heart wrenching ballad such a raw and ravaging feel that the song was recorded live in one take.
Richard Leigh who co-wrote Reba McEntire's "The Greatest Man I Never Knew" is responsible for "My Life is Based on a True Story." This acoustically driven ballad admonishes us to build our lives not on pleasures or possessions but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Joey Martin Feek, on the other hand, takes the lead on Stephanie Davis' "Turning for the Light." Here flecks of western gets tumbled in this driving little toe tapper that makes Joey's voice sounds like Dolly Parton in her most country moments. In a world of skeptical unbelief in God, "I See Him" is Joey's testimony that He is still present everywhere: "I see Him in the seeds I grow/I see Him in the rooster that crows/I see him when my husband's hand is in mine." Country superstar Josh Turner joins the Feeks in "Gotta Go Back" which is a melodic country ballad that waxes nostalgia about going back to one's roots.
Rory & Joey have such a high standard in their choice of covers and new songs that it feels sacrilegious to say that the three hymns sound out of place. They are by no means ropey; in fact, Joey's accapella intro to "I Come to the Garden" is stellar. But it's just that the originals and the modern covers are so good one would wish they had let the hymns go. If you want unadulterated country with some tinges of bluegrass and western without the clashing wall of drums and guitars, this abum is it. Delivered with lots of heart and realism, tracks like "Long Line of Love," "The Preacher and the Stranger" and "I See Him" will just blow you away.
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