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Porter Wagoner

18 Grand Old Gospel 2005 – 2005 (Gusto/Tee Vee)

Reviewed by Greg Milliken

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CDs by Porter Wagoner

This is Porter Wagoner's second gospel collection in two years, perhaps a clear indication that he has found a comfortable home in the genre.

Wagoner contributes four of his own compositions to this set, including two recitations, "I Found A Man" and "The Bird That Never Flew." The other 14 offerings are a mix of standards such as "Leaning On The Everlasting Arms" and "In The Sweet Bye and Bye" and newer material with an old time feel. His current singing partner, Pam Gold, joins him on "Ye Of Little Faith."

These newly-recorded numbers sound as if they could have been produced anytime between the mid-1960s and the early 1980s. Wagoner is in fine voice for a septuagenarian, and from the whining steel guitar and Floyd Cramer-style piano to the saccharine choral refrains, these tunes have all the trademark sounds of the artist's classic recordings for RCA.

That may be welcome news for long-time fans, but listeners expecting Wagoner to follow many of his contemporaries with attempts at late-career stylistic experimentation will have to wait. Wagoner plays it safe with this album, aiming straight for his core Opry/Branson audience with these mostly familiar, and occasionally compelling, songs of faith.