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Jim Avett and Family

Jim Avett and Family – 2008 (Ramseur)

Reviewed by C. Eric Banister

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CDs by Jim Avett and Family

The gospel music industry has become a multi-billion dollar industry in the past several years. One can find nearly any style - from folk to rap to speed metal - represented in the Christian music section of the music store. That's all well and good; be all things to all people, to paraphrase the apostle Paul. But often what is lost amid the shimmering U2-inspired guitars and samplers is a sense of authenticity and simplicity.

Jim Avett, father of the Avett Brothers, Scott and Seth, brings those two qualities front and center in this recording. The 61-year-old retired welder possess a voice not unlike any that you would hear in a local congregation, not spectacular, but a humble voice singing songs meant to impress no one but his God. Simple arrangements and traditional song choices make this the purest gospel release since Alan Jackson's Precious Memories.

Joined by his sons, his daughter Bonnie, Avett Brothers bassist Bob Crawford and friends Nelson Mullis on guitar and Joe Kwon on cello, Avett runs through 10 familiar gospel songs and hymns, 9 of which come straight from the hymn tradition and the remaining song the Carter Family chestnut Keep On The Sunny Side. The straightforward sound of It's Me, Just A Little Talk With Jesus, Learning To Lean and The Old Rugged Cross as song by Avett's common man voice bring to mind the field recordings made by the 1960s folk collectors as they made their way through the South.

Fans of sincerity and simplicity in their gospel music should definitely add this to their list.