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the Living of These Days
Artist: Kate Campbell with Spooner Oldham
Label: Large River Music
Time: 14 tracks/45:49 minutes
It was early Sunday morning, and I was on a long drive to a Victorian village of a town to pick-up a friend for church. Having never heard Kate Campbell, except for a song clip or two, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I put For the Living of These Days in my CD player. Right from the start, listening to this barebones approach to new and old songs that have a gospel feel seemed so appropriate for an early Sunday morning before church. I couldn’t have been more delighted.
Immediately, the sparse instrumentation reminded me of Johnny Cash’s My Mother’s Hymnbook. Like the Cash recording, there is little production, and the music consists of but one or two instruments, mostly keyboards. Kate’s clear annunciation in a voice that’s part country and part gospel takes center stage. Spooner Oldham does an excellent job of performing mostly simple and straightforward arrangements that are the ideal compliment.
The gospel treatment of this wide variety of songs and arrangements provides a cohesiveness that is remarkable. The great truths in gospel songs, especially ones that make mention of Jesus, have a peculiar power to inspire. In a complex world, getting back to basics shared in songs like these is refreshing.
Some of the original songs like “If I Ever Get to Heaven” by Kate and Spooner, and “When I Let Jesus Take My Hand” by Spooner and his wife Karen, lyrically are much like the songs of old. They fit right in with the Mylon LeFevre classic “Without Him.” Kate also wrote two thoughtful and comforting songs: “Dark Night of the Soul” and “Terrible Mercy.” Hymns include “Be Thou My Vision,” “God of Grace and God of Glory,” “There’s A Wideness in God’s Mercy” and “There is a Balm in Gilead.”
A number of songs also touch on a social justice theme: Woody Guthrie’s “Jesus Christ,” “Would They Love Him Down in Shreveport,” Kris Kristofferson’s “They Killed Him” and “Faces in the Water.”
Lovers of gospel music will cherish this recording. It’s like listening to songs from another era. It’s the ideal recording to take you to another time and placeone marked by old-fashioned values and love of God and Jesus Christ.
October 23, 2006