Merle Haggard

Cabin In The Hills – 2001 (Relentless Nashville)

Reviewed by Larry Stephens

Merle Haggard is a legend in country music as a writer and performer, performing for over four decades and with 65 albums to his credit. One association fans are unlikely to make, though, is with gospel music. Only twice before has he released a record with gospel associations (1970's single, "Jesus, Take A Hold" and a 1985 album, "The Family Bible").

"Cabin In The Hills" is pure Haggard as his fans love him. Haggard penned four of the songs and you can hear his deft touch with the lyrics: "I dreamed I saw Jesus last night, seated on a mountain in the moonlight. His hands held the key to a cabin, that cabin I've dreamed of all my life" and, with a kickoff that could be on one of his barroom songs, "Lord, don't give up on me, I'll do right someday."

Several cuts are standards, such as "Life's Railway To Heaven" and "Love Lifted Me" but no matter how many times you've heard them, hearing Haggard sing them is special. If they are just songs to you, then you'll enjoy the Haggard touch; if you're making the religious connection with them then you'll know that Haggard's road in life has likely caused him to cry "Precious Lord Take My Hand" more than once and that lends conviction to his singing.