This summation of the year according to Bill Gaither has all the tried and tested material that you'd expect. There's a smattering of R&B-flavored gospel for those more adventurous souls, and a perky instrumental harmonica rendition of "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms" (the song made famous, or notorious, by Robert Mitchum as the crazed ersatz preacher in the '50s thriller NIGHT OF THE HUNTER) for a slice of down-home goodness that you can almost taste. And this down-home quality is really what the Gaither family enterprise is all about--a Gaither album is a rock of certainty in a sea of chaos, and with 2001 being a more chaotic year than most, the classics contained on this best-of become all the more welcome.
Though some more contemporary songs like the gospel ballad "We Will Stand" are featured here, it's familiar tunes such as "His Eye Is on the Sparrow" and "How Great Thou Art" that provide most of the highlights. An exception is Gaither's own "The Old Rugged Cross Made the Difference," a redemption ballad that's sure to find echoes in many uncertain hearts. HOMECOMING 2001 is not merely a best-of--it's a restating of unshakeable beliefs.