The Bellamy Brothers

Pray for Me

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A honky tonk album filled with religious themes may sound a bit incongruous, but if you know the Bellamy Brothers, it's just business as usual. The duo have always gone their own way, ignoring trends and making the kind of music they want to make. The Brothers stirred up a bit of controversy with Jesus Is Coming, their first album of gospel-flavored songs. The title track, "Jesus Is Coming (And Boy Is He Pissed)" made some folks angry, but its message resonated with even more people by addressing homelessness, hypocrisy, and ecology in four concise verses. There's nothing here as in-your-face as "Jesus Is Coming," but their brand of subtle humor and deep faith is still in place, and it makes this generous, mostly self-written, 14-track record a joy to listen to. And like their last religious album, it has its share of surprises. "The Spanish Bible" features the accordion of Flaco Jimenez, a lilting Tex/Mex beat, and the chilling confessions of a murderer looking for peace and forgiveness. "Suppertime," written by roving preacher and songwriter Ira Stanphill, features a recitation, a reggae backbeat, and sharp timbale work by Rocky Marvel. "Jesus Ain't No Stained Glass Window" is a spirited rocker that reminds us that God can be found everywhere, not just in church on Sunday. "Hypocrites in Heaven" is a slow Waylon Jennings stomper that reminds us that lying to yourself is the greatest hypocrisy. "Number of Breaths" is another outside arrangement, a Latin rhythm with traces of Peruvian mountain music supplied by the charango of Carlos Ochoa and a beautiful chorus that reminds us of life's simple beauties: "It's not the number of breaths you take, each and every day, it's the number of moments that take your breath away." The lyrics are always realistic and down to earth. They don't expect their faith to solve all the world's problems, or even their own, but they do offer thanksgiving for the hand of the lord that can help us over the bumps in the road, especially if we're matching his efforts with our own.

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