Prime Cuts: I'd Choose You Again, I'll Still be Loving You, He Saw It All
Overall Grade: 4.5/5
Country music and Gospel music share a two-way street. Over the years, country music acts such as Lady Antebellum's Hilary Scott, Alan Jackson, Alabama, Randy Travis and others have gone on cruise control along the Gospel road by releasing full-fledged Christian albums. Then there are others who have attempted short detours by releasing religiously-themed songs, including George Strait ("God and Country Music") and Blake Shelton ("God's Country"). But the traffic traverses in the opposite direction too. How many CCM artists, for instance, have covered Eddy Raven's "Thank God for Kids" or Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA"? Now the Booth Brothers have paid the toll by releasing "Country Roads: Country and Inspirational Favorites." Recorded live at the Gaither studio, this new record features the brothers tackling 14 country songs and 1 original.
Save for Randy Travis' 2002 "Three Wooden Crosses," all the songs here are either garnered from the 80s or the ante-80s. The Booth Brothers are to be congratulated for eschewing the obvious and the oft-recycled songs. Rather, they have chosen to render lesser known country songs such as Forester Sisters 1987 #1 song "I'd Choose You Again." Coming from the pens of Paul Overstreet and Don Schlitz, the marriage vow has never been celebrated with more creativity and verve than on this gorgeous ballad. The Overstreet/Schlitz team returns with Randy Travis' 1987 ginormous hit "Forever and Ever, Amen." The septuagenarians sitting in the audience must have breathed signs of relief, when the Booth Brothers sing the line about not loving you because of your hair. A much pleasant surprise is their cover of Restless Heart's (also from1987) #1 hit "I'll Still be Loving You," minus the cheesy 80s synth sounds.
The Booth Brothers must have been fans of Alabama as two of their #1s are revived here. Whilst Alabama's original "High Cotton" and "Mountain Music" have far too heavy percussions, the Booth Brothers have kept the backings minimalistic, bringing out the rustic nature of the lyrics even more. Meanwhile, they tweak the lyrics of Don Williams' "Lord I hope this Day is Good" to make it more God-centered. While they deliver a slower (though a tad soporific) rendition of oft-covered Hank Williams Sr's "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry." Better left untouched is Anne Murray's super gaudy "Daydream Believer" and Randy Travis' "Three Wooden Crosses." Though the latter has a stunning message, the song just has been overdone and it seriously needs to retire for a season.
The Booth Brothers give fans a treat by revisiting their own classic "He Saw It All." Conflating the narratives of Jesus' healing the lame and blind into our own stories today, this is a breathtaking piece of how the ancient Biblical passages still impact our lives today. If you want to be lost the melodious world of 80s country, give this disc a spin. But pay attention to the lyrics, because they can not only be uplifting but as in the case of "He Saw It All," be life-changing.