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Gospel Roots

  • reviewed by Andy Argyrakis Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2005 1 Mar
Gospel Roots
Sounds like … Traditional meets contemporary gospel with the soulful, signature vocals of Aaron Neville. At a glance … The Neville Brothers' figurehead turned solo star gets most of his Devotion and Believe albums packaged under one enjoyable and uplifting envelope.Track Listing

Disc One:

Oh Happy DayI Saw the LightWhat a Friend We Have in JesusBridge Over Troubled WaterMorning Has BrokenIf I Had a HammerAve MariaLet It BeMary, Don't You Weep Steer Me RightGotta Serve SomebodyA Change Is Gonna ComeI Believe

Disc Two:

Let GoBanks of the River JordanAny Day NowJesus Is a Friend of MineJesus, Jesus, JesusJesus Loves MeSinging You a PrayerWhat Would Jesus Do?Going HomeWere You There?I Shall Be Released Amazing Grace

Besides being a singer with The Neville Brothers, Aaron Neville has also had a considerable presence as a solo artist. His cover of "Everybody Plays the Fool" and the duet with Linda Ronstadt, "Don't Know Much," have become immortalized on light rock radio, while his soulful voice remains one of the most instantly recognizable. But even with all the secular success, the New Orleans treasure has never forsaken his gospel music roots and Christian faith, often including spiritual songs throughout his vast album repertoire. Most recently, he released Devotion and Believe, both of which revolve around that theme exclusively, touching on both the classic and contemporary.

Those who own either or both records should be beware that Gospel Roots merely mixes up the track order of nearly the full lineup from both Devotion and Believe and packages them under one title. However, that doesn't take away from the material's impact, some unexpected interpretations of other people's songs, and that silky smooth voice fans have fallen in love with for decades. Standouts include church hymns such as "Banks of the River Jordan" and "Jesus Loves Me," plus the Neville-penned doo-wop gem "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus." Also worth investigating are the current R&B swing of "Let Go" and the choir-packed rejoicing of "Oh Happy Day."

Like the Blind Boys of Alabama on Higher Ground, Neville also takes several mainstream tunes and applies them to a higher purpose. Spiritually inclined classics such as Bob Dylan's "Gotta Serve Somebody," Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come," and The Beatles' "Let It Be" when sung by Neville will truly make the hairs stand up on the back of one's neck. Though there's no need for Believe and Devotion owners to re-purchase this project for simply the updated artwork and handful of additional tracks, Gospel Roots is still a suitable one-stop shop for both new fans and diehards hoping to get their hands on Neville's most inspiring work.

© Andy Argyrakis, subject to licensing agreement with Christianity Today International. All rights reserved. Click for reprint information.