Inspirational Journey by Randy Travis

A teenage Randy Travis recording a gospel album would have spawned a symphony for the devil. Boozed-up and drugged-up, Randy totaled two motorcycles, four cars and almost his life before cleaning up his act and winning major country music success.

Now Randy verifies with this album that he's equally at home with old-time gospel and new tunes of hope and praise. And his unmistakable voice has never sounded richer.

The album finds its groove with the heartfelt lyrics of “Baptism.” But “Dr. Jesus” suffers from the contrived cute-school approach to songwriting. (What next, “Nurse God”?)

However, “Drive Another Nail” effectively hammers home an eternal theme with its dramatic double entendre. The concept returns in “The Carpenter” as Randy is joined by Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter. Unfortunately, all three get swamped in muted, watered-down vocals that battle the surging instrumental track and negate what could have been a highlight of the album. It's as though they want to whisper their convictions rather than shout them with abandon.

No whispering on “I Am Going,” a devastating ballad of life and death that Randy performs with precision and perfection.

Before she died nearly three years ago, Randy's mother wanted him to record “Amazing Grace.” He never did until now. But Randy’s inspirational journey from rebel to religious man, and the faith that fueled it, suggests that she's now hearing his heartfelt, soulful rendition clearly.

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