Spiritual Solace on the #2 Train

Traveling home from the studio last night, I plugged in my iPod, hit “shuffle” and up came Jimmie Dale Gilmore singing Peace In The Valley.

Thomas A. Dorsey wrote the gospel standard for Mahalia Jackson in 1937. The song was a hit fourteen years later for Red Foley and The Sunshine Boys. Most of us are probably familiar with Elvis Presely’s version or, maybe, Johnny Cash’s. Whatever: Peace In The Valley is the finale of Come On Back, Gilmore’s 2005 album of country chestnuts. If he doesn’t own the song, the performance is gorgeous all the same.

Gilmore’s voice has always been sharp, pinched and eerie–like Hank Williams transmitting from the outer reaches of the galaxy–and here it achieves a fluidity and ease that’s nothing short of supernal. The rest of Come On Back doesn’t attain that kind of majesty–Gotta Travel On, with its unstoppable, skittering rhythms, comes close–but it’s worth seeking out for Gilmore’s indelible, uncanny and altogether appropriate moment of grace.

© 2011 Mario Naves

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