Inspirational Journey

Randy Travis

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Inspirational Journey Review

by Todd Everett

Released during Travis' tenure with Warner Bros. but held for release until 2000, Inspirational Journey is the singer's first religious album. In earlier decades, Tennessee Ernie Ford and B.J. Thomas made second careers by recording specifically for the Christian market. Other country singers would record occasional gospel albums, not to sell records, necessarily, but out of love for the music and perhaps a sense of obligation. Consequently, gospel albums by Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash, Tammy Wynette, Merle Haggard, and Dolly Parton ranked among those artists' most satisfying efforts. And such is the case here. Kyle Lehning under-produces almost to the point of this sounding like a Don Williams album. The voice is way out in front and the instruments and background vocalists provide a bed of support. There's occasional seasoning by bluegrass instruments including banjo, fiddle, and Jerry Douglas's Dobro. (One exception is "The Carpenter," which features co-lead and harmony vocals by Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter.) Fact is, if it weren't for the lyrics, Inspirational Journey would sound like any of the other good Randy Travis albums that Lehning produced. Which means that some listeners may find Travis' Lefty Frizzell-derived singing a bit on the sleepy side, despite the occasionally moderate-tempo change of pace from the ballads that constitute most of the album. But the singer's fans will appreciate his warmth, sincerity, and taste. Complete lyrics and musicians' credits are included, though tiny type against a dark background renders them all but unreadable.

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