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Album Review: Mercyland: Hymns for the Rest of Us by Various Artists
Excellent, Based on 2 Critics
Paste Magazine - 80 Based on rating 8.0/10
When most folks think contemporary Christian music, they run. Whether it’s the glossy post-Prozac sheen of Sting at his most vacuous, the dentist’s perky AC or the harmony-heavy old-school quartets, it doesn’t inspire passion in faith. Phil Madeira, like fellow roots icon/salvation witness Buddy Miller, knows the difference and the way to coax the divine from plain dirt.
Who says Christian music can’t appeal to non-believers, too? On this 12-song compilation, producer Phil Madeira rounds up a diverse group of God-fearing folksingers and roots rockers, assigning everyone with a common task: record a song grounded in faith and old-school Americana principles. The result is a collection of dusty, left-field hymns that don’t evoke the chapel as much as the countryside, with acoustic guitars and banjos replacing the church organs most of us associate with Sunday mornings. You don’t have to listen hard to hear the spirituality in these tunes – there are enough references to God, devotion, and prayer to fill a preacher’s weekly sermon – but it’s an old-timey, nostalgic sort of spirituality, the kind more likely to be found on the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack or Patty Griffin’s Downtown Church than modern-day Christian radio.