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  Songs from the Longleaf Pines
Artist: Charlie Daniels
Label: Koch Records
Times: 13 tracks / 32:14 minutes

For his 45th album--that's not a typo, by the way--Songs from the Longleaf Pines, Charlie Daniels turns his immense talents to crafting a down-home, honest-to-goodness bluegrass gospel album. Now granted, there pretty much isn't any other type of bluegrass than "down-home," but Daniels is probably about the best man to cut such a record. As if that wasn't enough, to back him up, he has rounded up some of most illustrious talent this side of Nashville. Artists such as Ricky Skaggs, Mac Wiseman, and Earl Scruggs join Daniels on this album.

Songs from the Longleaf Pines plucks and strums through a cheerily updated, appropriately twangy, 13-song set of tunes deeply etched in the folk gospel traditions of the South. Old school hymns such as "Softly and Tenderly," "I'll Fly Away," and "How Great Thou Art" are treated with appropriate reverence. "Keep on the Sunny Side" features Wiseman, Scruggs, and Daniels joining forces to belt out a joyous three-voice, banjo-fest that is as catchy as it is brief.

Daniel's sweet vocals are legendary and he even adds his voice here to reciting a couple of Psalms for good measure.

Perhaps the only downside to this album is indeed its brevity. With a little over 30 minutes of music, it probably could have been close to double that before it would have gotten old.

An interesting deviation from the mostly carefree demeanor in Songs from the Longleaf Pines is in the two final tracks, "What Would You Give" and "This Old Crossroads." These tunes affect a more somber mood and reflect Daniel's no compromise approach to his faith.

Charlie Daniels still has it--not that this album was all that difficult for him. With this particular effort, there is no way he could go wrong.

Noel Lloyd  3/14/2005



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