A few decades ago nearly every country singer had at least one--often more--gospel albums in their catalog. Today, aside from gospel veteran Amy Grant, who balances the sacred and secular, and Randy Travis, that concept has long faded. For Alan Jackson, however, treating the musical past as present has been a way of life, as it is with these 15 timeless hymns from his youth. Recorded with just two acoustic guitars and a piano, it was originally a private Christmas present to his mother. The spare instrumentation is surprisingly robust behind his flawless readings of "I'll Fly Away," "Softly and Tenderly," "How Great Thou Art," "Are You Washed in the Blood?," and "The Old Rugged Cross," all as beguilingly unpretentious as any of his country hits. Instead of an all-star duet, wife Denise and daughters Mattie and Ali join in on "'Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus." In the end, what began as a private bequest becomes a moving, eloquent gift to Jackson's entire audience. --Rich Kienzle
Celebrate your faith. Songs of praise are beautifully performed in Alan Jackson's Precious Memories. Includes 'Blessed Assurance', 'Are You Washed In The Blood?', 'How Great Thou Art' and 'Leaning On The Everlasting Arms'. BMG. 2006.