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Album Review

There comes a time in every person's life when he or she sits back to take stock; Pilgrimage represents that moment for Larry Gatlin. One of the pioneers of country-pop in the '70s, Gatlin returns to those roots here, delivering an album that ironically, when compared to his shiny-sounding late-aughts Nashville musical descendants, sounds positively down-home. Woven throughout the record are short spoken word interludes in which Gatlin reflects upon his musical journey and his creative and personal relationships with elder legends such as Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, and Roger Miller. The disc's title is a reference to Gatlin's 1973 debut album, The Pilgrim, and the new album shares that record's matching of traditional, finely crafted country songwriting with smooth vocal harmonies and pop-style instrumental textures reminiscent of country-rockers such as the Eagles and Poco. On "Say Nashville — Whadda Ya Say?," Gatlin recognizes the changing times and explicitly asks fans for acceptance, while "Sweet Becky Walker" is a fairly straightforward, and perhaps more vibrant-sounding, recutting of the Texas native's first hit single, bringing his career full circle. Perhaps the most poignant moment, however, is the song "Johnny Cash Is Dead (And His House Burned Down)," which at once pays tribute to the master while encouraging young bucks to aspire to Cash's legacy. Throughout, Gatlin and his brothers sound re-energized and confident, and as a result deliver one of the most consistent, engaging, and soulful albums of their career.

Customer Reviews

The Gatlin Boys are back!

If you already like 'em, you'll love this CD; if you already hate them, you probably won't be moved. Great new and unrecorded stuff. Larry does a monologue about Johnny Cash (who gave him his start in the business) throughout the album separated by songs. He comes off somewhat pretentious and self absorbed, but, if you've followed him at all, this won't come as a surprise. That notwithstanding, the various songs are a pleasure to listen to. "A Man Can't Live With a Brokent Heart Too Long" is a tribute to Johnny and his wife. "He Bought Her Back" is about everday Christianity couched in a tale about a preacher. Good harmonies, good sounds, good golly - if you like the Gatlins you'll want to add this to your collection. Larry has NEVER been in better voice.

The Pilgrim Has Found His Way Home

It's been far too many years since that Gatlin Brother harmony found its way to a new release. I for one have missed that unique blend that takes Larry's songs and burns the stories into your soul. So though I was excited about the new release, I wondered if Larry and his brothers would measure up to the days of old. I should have known better, no need to wonder, I was not disappointed! Though there are several cuts that included other artists, the tunes that are pure Gatlin Boys caused me to shout, "YES! The pilgrim has found his way home."

If you have missed Larry, Steve and Rudy, you will not be disappointed with this album as you discover the best voices in the industry are like aged fine wine. If you're not familiar with the Gatlin Boys, consider yourself warned, the $10 you spend on this album is just the down payment on all the Gatlin Boys' recordings you'll end up adding to your collection.

The Pilgrim

Something comes from singing together for 40 years and working in the music business for almost as long and that is all evident on this disc from Larry and the Brothers Gatlin. It has been 17 years since Larry and the Brothers have recorded an album of new music. A new Nashville major label deal has brought us just that. It is part Americana, part traditional country, part modern country (track 5 Black Gold sounds as fresh and viable as ANY single by any new country artist…an AMAZING vocal by Larry) and part tribute to Larry’s friend and mentor Johnny Cash. A remake of Larry’s I’ve Done Enough Dyin’ Today (in my opinion one of the greatest country songs ever written) is turned into a duet with vocal powerhouse Lari White and Johnny Cash Is Dead and His House Burned Down is a musical and lyrical homage to the Man I Black. It reminds us of what a really great songwriter Larry Gatlin is and that he was and maybe still is one of the best voices in country music.

Pilgrimage, Larry Gatlin & the Gatlin Brothers
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Customer Ratings