Although Albert E. Brumley had been playing country music since the '40s, he found a higher profile in 2001 when he recorded Two Old Friends with Merle Haggard. As with that project, I'll Fly Away returns to the songs of Brumley's famous father, Albert Brumley, who wrote during the golden age of gospel, and augments the collection with several of his own compositions. It's hard to miss with a set list that includes "Rank Strangers" and the title cut, and Brumley delivers the goods with honest emotions that are supported by a fine backup band. He's joined by fiddler/mandolinist Tim Crouch, bassist Boone Carlon, banjoist Steve Bush, dobroist Dean Holman, and vocalists Bruce Haynes and Jimmy Ponder. Brumley brings his warm vocal style to bear on catchy songs like "Banjo Boy" and "Green Valley Farms," inserting a strong nostalgic mood into the material. The album ends on a happy note, with the upbeat, swinging "How I'd Like to Be," bringing I'll Fly Away to a pleasing close. Whether one enjoys good gospel-country music, or is looking for a historical overview of some of the genre's best songs, I'll Fly Away will fit either bill. Brumley remains a winning performer, and fans will also find it refreshing to see the singer beginning yet another stage of his long career.
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AllMusic Review by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.