Charlie Louvin

The Battles Rage On

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Charlie Louvin is a tradtionalist and proud of it. Well over 60 years after he cut his first record with his brother, Ira Louvin, he's no more concerned with the latest trends in country music than he was in the '50s, and he's still singing simple, heartfelt mountain music with the conviction he summoned in his heyday. In 1962, the Louvin Brothers recorded Weapon of Prayer, an album of patriotic songs that dealt (often in sentimental fashion) with men at war and how they turn to faith to help them in their darkest hours; in 2010, with many Americans serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, Charlie has returned to the themes of that album (and a few of its songs) on The Battles Rage On, in which he and a small acoustic ensemble perform classic country songs of faith and love of country in a time of war. Louvin has made no effort to make the album sound "modern" or to update the numbers in which the lyrics specifically reference wars of the past; in his mind, the ultimate message of these songs is clearly universal, and he sings "Searching for a Soldier's Grave," "There's a Star Spangled Banner Waving," and "Mother, I Thank You for the Bible" with the same passion he brought to these songs in 1962. Louvin's voice is not what it was back then, but if his instrument is rougher and more fragile, he sounds no less heartfelt and convincing, and the performances by a gifted acoustic ensemble (including his son Charlie Louvin, Jr. on guitar and featuring a guest appearance from Del McCoury) are the right fit for the material. The Battles Rage On was recorded at a time when most Americans feel far more ambiguous about their nation's military commitments than they did when these songs were written, but if it's harder to feel good about the wars America fights in 2010, Louvin's support of our soldiers and love for his homeland is moving regardless of the specifics of their mission. The Battles Rage On is a brave and sincere gesture from an artist who has never failed to follow his heart and his conscience.

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