Herbert Busby

Classic Country Gospel, Vol. 1

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The six songs on Herbert Busby's debut album are thoroughly old-school country gospel, so traditional that they might have been recorded at any point from the '50s onwards. Pedal steel, fiddle, and acoustic guitars carry the tunes underneath Busby's somewhat unique vocal stylings. A familiar figure on the country gospel scene for years -- as part of Howard Goodman's traveling gospel troupe early in his career -- Busby has a pure, untrained voice that's admirably plain. Unlike a number of gospel singers, Busby keeps the focus entirely on the devotional words, not on how prettily he sings them. On rare occasion, however, he slips over the line from "untrained" to "amateurish," particularly on "I Come to the Garden Alone," a recasting of the traditional hymn "In the Garden." The song is in 3/4 waltz time, but Busby's lead vocal wanders through a variety of time signatures, never quite settling on one. It's a very common sound in country music, going at least as far back as the Carter Family, but in this particular case, it grates on the ear. That quibble aside, Classic Country Gospel, Vol. 1 delivers exactly what the title promises.

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