Black Music Matters Festival

Wade Bowen

Then Sings My Soul...Songs for My Mother – 2016 (Bowewn Sounds)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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CDs by Wade Bowen

Wade Bowen's "Then Sings My Soul... Songs for my Mother" is mainly comprised of gospel songs familiar to country music fans, including "I'll Fly Away" and "Farther Along." These are all songs churched mothers would love. However, the wildcard in the bunch is "Saved," a rollicking cover of Bob Dylan's gospel song back from his born again period. It's built upon a hard charging rock guitar riff, pummeling piano and Sunday-ready organ. One may wonder if this was really one of mom's favorites. That matters not because it's a powerful statement of faith, and Bowen goes all out singing it.

These songs bring spiritual comfort to the more spiritually-inclined. Even those leaning closer to the secular side of the spectrum can benefit from these timeless songs, however. "Farther Along," for instance, advises a bigger picture viewpoint. Many of the world's events may not make sense with contemporary perspective, but may well be more understandable given a little more time. And who doesn't long for the untroubled life promised through "Peace in the Valley"?

The veteran Texas singer succeeds with these recordings by never attempting to reinvent them. Their beautiful simplicity is not spoiled by creative inventiveness. Many of these songs continue to be sung today because they're nearly perfect expressions of Southern Christianity. Why, after all, would anyone dare mess with such naturally good things?

Bowen does mix in gospel choir vocals on some tracks, including "Peace in the Valley," but these added vocals never overwhelm the lead vocalist. This could have easily devolved into Christian television telethon time parody, but doesn't. Hollywood Christianity, this ain't.

Bowen's mother and many other likeminded mammas will find much to treasure about this new gospel collection.