There seems to be a theme among country superstars. They work their way onto the scene, burn bright, hopefully keeping the flame alive for some time. Then as their career ebbs and flows and the hits stop coming as steadily as they used to, they find themselves sitting in a studio recording a gospel record. Granted, country and gospel have always been fine bedfellows, but it just seems to be a trend that signifies that one is nearing the end of their career.
"The Gambler" himself, Kenny Rogers, is the latest to take the trek from fiery hits to folly. Ironically known more for songs like the aforementioned track, Rogers this time sets his sights on both old and new songs of the church. Drawing from the public domain as well as more contemporary tracks from writers like Vince Gill, Marty Funderburk and CCM hitmaker Michael W. Smith, Rogers weaves his way through a traditional tapestry of country-flavored faith.
The sound is just what it should be given the cast of supporting players. The Whites, Winfield's Locket and Point of Grace share guest vocals alongside great musical turns including Bryan Sutton, Gordon Mote, Eric Darken and Jerry Douglas. It's a sound that's straight out of the country, well produced and borderline bluegrass in its delivery, with lots of acoustic strings and flawless playing.
Yet, the flaw that does appear is Roger's overall delivery. Yes, his voice is still strong and fine, his raspy baritone still intact. Yet, the passion simply falls short here. Whether it be the praise and worship of Grace or the hallowed hymnody of Amazing Grace, Rogers seems to be singing by the numbers rather than by the heart. Rogers is still a great talent and fans will eat this release up, but those in search of "The Gambler" will be well-served to keep looking.