Billy: The Early Years of Billy Graham

When inspirational country is this good, it makes you wonder why we don't hear more of it. And leave it to the magical life of none other than the Reverend Billy Graham to be the source. This is a rich collection that matches the majesty of the man's life, and yet the soundtrack has its own life independent of the movie. Each track is a triumphant tribute between Nashville and, well, Nashville. Many of country's bright stars team up with contemporary Christian artists either literally in duets, or simply in spirit. There are familiar voices (Michael W. Smith, Alan Jackson, Sara Evans) and relatively new ones (Brandon Heath, China Edelman). There is the surprisingly good combination of Brooks & Dunn and Third Day's Mac Powell that makes you wonder if Powell ought to try country more often rather than the crossover rocker gig. And then there are simply transcendent moments, such as the can-they-really-be-that-good duet between Michael W. Smith and Melinda Doolittle on "Amazing Love." Amazing indeed! It makes you wonder why no one has paired those two together until now. Another highlight is Brad Paisley's guitar rendition of "What a Friend We Have in Jesus." With or without the movie, this soundtrack makes you hope more producers will find ways to pair together the best of gospel and country. ~ Jared Johnson

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