The McCrary Sisters
When the mood is right, there’s nothing more likely to lift the spirits than a spiritual sung by a gospel group in fully fervent faith. Ever since Aretha Franklin’s definitive gospel album, Amazing Grace, released way back in 1972, there’s been a tendency for rhythm and blues to creep into the gospel oeuvre, with lots of that mindless riffing Mariah Carey and a hundred other warblers have engaged in when they think they’re channeling Aretha merely by adding a dozen additional syllables to any word they’re singing. The McCrary Sisters fall into some of that caterwauling on the weaker tracks, but when they stick closer to traditional gospel, as they do on their version of Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind,” they soar. This is one of those “Saturday night and Sunday morning” albums gospel groups sometimes put out, giving the devil his due with cuts that nod to Saturday night sin (“Other Side of the Blues”) before turning to straight-ahead Sunday morning redemption (“Give Him My All,” a Dylan/Regina McCrary collaboration). One track, “Dig a Little Deeper,” is painfully bad, but the sisters do better with “Follow Me Up,” and a handful of others. Overall, I don’t love this album, but then I haven’t been to church in several decades.