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Paul Cauthen

My Gospel – 2016 (Lightning Rod)

Reviewed by Lee Zimmerman

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CDs by Paul Cauthen

Paul Cauthen didn't dub his debut album "My Gospel" without good reason. The product of a religious upbringing, he made an earnest plea to God to help deliver him from a path he sensed was quickly going downhill. He references his higher intents several times throughout, but it's the lyrics to the stormy "Grand Central" that best reflect his renewed awakening.

"If I get to heaven, better roll me some sevens,
Cause right now my ticket's punched for hell
You rage and fade, I miss too many Sundays
Lord if you hear me I could surely use some help...

Indeed, Cauthen makes no secret of his tempestuous existence. With a gruff vocal that brings to mind the fire and veracity of both Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash, he asserts himself through a sturdy stance and several rugged refrains, digging in his heels and delivering his message with drive and determination. The unfettered insurgence of "Still Drivin'," "Saddle," "I'll Be the One" and "Once You're Gone" affirm the fact that Cauthen is not only resolute, but also unbowed, exhibiting an authority that's almost irrefutable. However, when the setlist concludes with the sweeping, surging title track, it also becomes clear that his conviction is tempered by a humility that bows to a higher power.

Suffice it to say Cauthen has made a formidable first impression, one that establishes him as an artist with authority and assurance. Successful careers are almost assured when an artist's initial album dares to delve into deeper realms, and that bodes especially well in Cauthen's case. "I'm still drivin' when's this break gonna come," he asks early on. The answer is obvious. If he continues to muscle up this sort of strength, he won't be waiting very long.