Vestal & Friends

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Vestal & Friends is a real treat, albeit a rather disconcerting one at times. Vestal & Friends pairs Vestal Goodman with various groups and artists for each track. One thing that separates this from other duet albums is that she records in the style of each of the artists, rather than all of them conforming to her southern gospel style. It makes for interesting, if a bit strange, listening. The album opens with "Jesus Made a Way," a duet with Vince Gill. Gill does an incredibly good job, meeting Goodman halfway stylistically speaking with a straightforward gospel tune. Carman does a nice job on the classic "Oh, Happy Day." Particularly outstanding is her performance of "Great is Thy Faithfulness" with the Newsboys, done in contemporary style. You wouldn't think it would work, but it does, and it's moving, modern take on the old classic. "Giver of Life," with Sandi Patty and Russ Taff is done in true Sandi Patty style: it's an orchestral, soaring ballad, with Patty's soprano and Goodman's alto complementing each other quite well. Goodman performs the Gaither classic "He Touched Me" with, who else, Bill and Gloria Gaither, and it sounds like they were meant to perform together. "Satisfied" is a rollicking country-gospel number with Dolly Parton, and "With You," sung with her husband, is a sweet song of life and love. Vestal & Friends is a delightful pairing of a southern gospel great with outstanding artists. Although the switching of song styles gets a bit confusing at times, it's well worth a listen for any gospel fan.

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