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  Men and Angels Say
Artist: Ashley Cleveland 
Label:  Rambler
Length: 12 tracks /43:14 minutes

If you think of hymns as being dull—the music uninteresting—Ashley Cleveland’s Men and Angels Say may change your opinion. These are not hymns as your father and mother heard them. 

That’s not to say that these classics are unrecognizable—far from it! The arrangements retain the original melodies but are often punctuated by the stellar guitar work of husband Kenny Greenberg. It may be a little heavy-handed in places but overall it works well. 

This recording has a rock feel to it. It’s Amy Grant’s last hymns recording with more of an edge. You also get a little blues, gospel and even a little bit of country thrown in. All of which plays to Ashley’s strengths as a vocalist.

One of several highlights is Steve Winwood singing a duet and playing the Hammond B3 on "I Need Thee Every Hour." We are treated to a blues-inspired, lone guitar accompaniment on "Precious Lord, Take My Hand." A bagpipe intro to "Christ the Lord Is Risen Today" segues into a gentle rocker that fits the song well. St. Francis might appreciate the beautiful version of his treasured hymn, "All Creatures of Our God and King." Ashley’s mostly subdued vocals are wedded to just a simple piano arrangement.

This recording is dedicated to Ashley’s mother, who taught her "the hymns and passed on her great love for them…" In Men and Angels Say, Ashley does the same for us.

Michael Dalton 3/20/2005



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