Hand to the Plow, as you probably guessed from the title, is a gospel/inspirational album. Marty Raybon's Grammy-winning high tenor and expressive singing with his band Shenandoah have always been soulful and his sacred albums burn with the fervor of a true believer. That holds true here, with performances full of the sanctified fire of heavenly love. "You've Got to Move," a chart-topping song on the Christian charts, looks at hard times with a winning combination of faith and humor and a punchy country-rock arrangement. "Walking with God at a Guilty Distance" is a powerful testament of faith that deals with the inner struggle between pride and surrender; Raybon's vocal expresses a blend of faith and humility with its unassuming power. "He's Still My Little Man (Matty's Song)" is a father's song to a son in the Army, capturing the pride and apprehension that any parent can relate to. "He's Still Doing Miracles Today" contrasts Biblical miracles with the everyday miracles of modern life, "What Have I Done to Deserve This?" is an ode to the blessings of an ordinary life, and "When He Reigns, It Pours" is a bright rocker with a solid backbeat that paraphrases Biblical stories. Raybon's vocal is positively jubilant as the band kicks into funky high gear. The traditional hymn "I'm Working on a Building" opens with a tension-filled exchange between Raybon's vocals and a bluesy, slurred electric guitar solo before jumping into a romping, stomping rave-up. T. Graham Brown, Jimmy Fortune, and Trace Adkins share lead vocals and supply inspiring gospel harmonies.
AllMusic Review by j. poet