Billy Joe Shaver
The thing so many people like to forget about Jesus is He hung out with the lowlifes, drifters and overtly seedy denizens of the Middle East. These weren't people who voted Republican and lived in a gated community, but the types who a weekend in the slammer was a change to clean up and get a shave. Billy Joe Shaver takes gospel right back down to the world of those who need saving and know it, rather than the world of the righteous deacons and choir members who so often co-opt the entire gospel experience. Billy Joe look like he's been on the mooch more than once, and now hooks up with the new country recording machine that revolves around John Carter Cash.
Shaver's gospel music sounds like it should be sung in a biker bar sometime after last call. The sound is unabashedly country -- acoustic guitar, a small drum kit and a slightly out of tune piano with a keyboard gummed up by spilt beer and keys burnt with Camel Straights. Best of all, Cash pulls out half a dozen big names to sing along, including John Anderson, Tanya Tucker and Kris Kristofferson. The songs are original but sound like they came out of the delta or a Cody, Wyoming whorehouse. This is the real deal, and rather than a service with metal folding chairs and women in asexual silk robes, Billy's church has a juke box and dollar drafts until midnight. Hell's awaiting, but by the second set you'll find redemption or a bleached blonde who dips snuff when you ain't looking.