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Songs from the Longleaf Pines

  • reviewed by Andy Argyrakis Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2005 1 Mar
Songs from the Longleaf Pines
Sounds like … signature Charlie Daniels vocals and fiddle playing over classic and contemporary hymns performed in the bluegrass styleAt a glance … the virtuoso player and his all-star friends provide an intriguing interpretation of many church and Southern standards. Track ListingWalking in Jerusalem (Just Like John)Preachin,' Prayin,' Singin' I've Found a Hiding PlaceI'm Working on a BuildingThe 91st Psalm (Recitation)Keep On the Sunny SideSoftly and TenderlyThe Old AccountI'll Fly Away (Instrumental)How Great Thou ArtThe 23rd Psalm (Recitation)What Would You Give (In Exchange For Your Soul)The Old Crossroads

To fans of classic rock, country and bluegrass music, Charlie Daniels is one of the elite few who's crossed into several genres while continuing to make a mark on new generations. Though best known for the breakout hit "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," the fiery fiddle player has spent over four decades making music. And now, with Songs from the Longleaf Pines (his 45th release), rather than return to his mainstream roots, Daniels has gone straight down the spiritual route for a series of Southern hymns performed bluegrass style.

The set starts with a robust rendering of "Walking in Jerusalem (Just Like John)," with its fast-action banjo, fiddle and steel guitar, and background accompaniment by The Whites. That famous family joins Ricky Skaggs on "Preachin,' Prayin,' Singin,'" a rousing romp reminiscent of the Oak Ridge Boys. Also along for the deep-fried ride are the playful "Keep On the Sunny Side," the careful finger pickin' of "The Old Account" and the contemplative "What Would You Give (In Exchange For Your Soul)."

Even more familiar are twangy takes on "Softly and Tenderly," "How Great Thou Art" and an instrumental of "I'll Fly Away." Though these are often covered, Daniels approaches them from a much more varied perspective than the typical modern worship collection. The only instances of "filler" are two spoken word segments—the readings of "The 91st Psalm" and "The 23rd Psalm"—which interfere a bit with the album's overall continuity. Still, Daniels fans will be happy with the results, which could serve as a platform for the Good News to be exposed to those who haven't heard it.