Joey + Rory Sound Radiant On Final Album, ‘Hymns’
Hyms, the final studio album by Joey + Rory, is a well-rounded, enjoyable, country-gospel effort.
Folks following country duo Joey + Rory are saddened by the passing of Joey from cancer. Before her death, she recorded one final album with husband Rory, Hymns (That Are Important To Us). The album is a collection comprised of traditional hymns recorded prior to Joey’s debilitated state. It is a fitting final chapter.
Opener “Take My Hand, Precious Lord” is simple, lacking in frills. Even so, it’s beautiful. The subtlety of Joey + Rory’s performance is appreciated. The traditional vibe continues on “I Surrender All.” Interestingly, the hymn is treated rhythmically. This propels it beyond traditional treatment as a ballad. Even with quickened pace, “I Surrender All” plays true to the original.
“He Touched Me” arrives timely, slackening the pace. The duo predictably, though masterfully, tackle the Gaither classic. This is a perfect fit, particularly for Joey’s lead. It naturally posesses country stylistic cues. “Softly And Tenderly” proceeds effortlessly, lacking complexity yet not requiring it. It doesn’t reinvent country or gospel, but appeals and “breathes” on the listener.
“Jesus Loves Me” does the unexpected – portrays a savvy mood by the duo. It opens with children singing the childhood hymn. Then, it progresses into a rollicking interpretation. The music itself – guitar, fiddle, and banjo – is spectacular. Gorgeous hymn “It Is Well With My Soul” receives chilling treatment. The harmonies nail the mark without question.
The prominence of the upright bass on “The Old Rugged Cross” is a thoughtful production touch. It firmly establishes the meter, not to mention an old school, southern gospel-country sound. “I Need Thee Every Hour” maintains pulse with little use of ritardando (gradual slowing) or fermata. Regardless, the straightforwardness works.
Ballads are where the ‘bread is buttered,’ exemplified by “How Great Thou Art.” “I’ll Fly Away” could use a smidgen more oomph, but remains sound. “Jesus Paid It All” and “Suppertime” return to reverence. It’s tough not to cry listening to closer “When I’m Gone,” arguably the best moment.
All in all, Hymns is a well-rounded, enjoyable country-gospel album. This album isn’t innovative nor is it blasé. It’s respectable and should easily please its fan base. The biggest criticism is arguably the absence of risk taking. That doesn’t seem to be M.O. As it is, Hymns is a beautiful, fitting, final effort.
Gems: “Take My Hand, Precious Lord,” “He Touched Me,” “Jesus Loves Me,” “It Is Well With My Soul” & “When I’m Gone”