The wild and trembling American theologian, Cotton Mather, once said that America had the deadliest serpents, the most enterprising devils, and the most remarkably painful preachers of any spot of God’s kingdom.
To counter all that I’d say we also have the best gospel music this side if the pearlies. Regardless of personal belief, it …must be said that American traditional music is heavily rooted in the Word, and in all fairness, I should admit I prefer the song over the pontificating.
All of this leads me to Patty Griffin’s new album of mostly traditional gospel songs, Downtown Church. A self-confessed lapsed catholic, she recorded this album in a Nashville Presbyterian church with some help from Buddy Miller, Raul Malo, Emmylou Harris, and Jim Lauderdale. If that won’t make you say hallelujah, nothing will, your heart is stone. There remains a respect for the music and history, but doesn’t become dusty education or zealous testimony. Simply a joyous record for all the lapsed what-have-yous out there, who may not feel the need to relapse, but still like to dip the toe from time to time. Come on in, the water is fine.