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Various Artists

Voice of the Spirit: The Gospel of the South – 2006 (Dualtone)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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This represents John Carter Cash's musical vision. His original intent was to create a project that was inspired by and dedicated to Appalachian gospel music, but as he explains in the CD notes, this release soon took on a life of its own.

In the end, Cash's guideline for song choices was narrowed down to only gospel songs from the South. The overall feel is quiet and acoustic. For instance, it includes Johnny Cash's fragile performance of "Unclouded Day," which was also The Man In Black's first recording session after June Carter left us.

It wouldn't be a work truly representative of the South, if it didn't include both black and white examples of gospel music. Thus, Mavis Staples and Mighty Clouds Of Joy infuse this disc with touches of soul, whereas Ronnie and Del McCoury (among others) provide church-y bluegrass.

If you put these tracks into a church service context, they are best described as the songs performed right before the preaching, in order to put you into the proper frame of mind to hear the message. It's one collection of inspirational music that is truly inspired.