Record Review - 3 September 25 2002

Country superstar Randy Travis has had it all in his successful 16-year career. In the '80s, he was the "voice of the New Traditionalists," and is often credited with shaking Nashville out of its pop doldrums (for a while, anyway). His baritone voice was instantly recognizable, and his string of hits and awards was remarkable.

Throughout his glory days, Travis never strayed from his traditional roots. And even though the industry drifted back to pop, and hard country artists like Travis disappeared from the radio, he continues to put out great albums. He's even found time to cut a few good gospel tracks.

The only thing that separates Rise and Shine, Travis' second gospel album, from one of his secular albums is the words. He co-wrote six of the 13 tracks, all of which contain the rich country sound that signifies so much of Travis' previous work. Lyrically, themes range from thoughtful introspection ("Raise Him Up") to semi-autobiographical storytelling ("When Mama Prayed") to the humorous ditty "Pray for the Fish," which warns of the consequences of mass baptism. While Rise And Shine may not save any souls, it should entertain both saints and sinners.

Randy Travis performs a free concert at First Baptist Church, 147 Church St., Jonesboro. 770-487-4500.??