Album Review: Josh Turner’s I Serve A Savior
For years Josh Turner’s fans have been begging him to record a gospel album. A lifelong dream of the singer’s, he granted their wish with the release of his first-ever gospel record I Serve A Savior. The 12-track project, out Oct. 26, includes some of the South Carolina native’s favorite hymns, gospel tunes and live staples, as well as two covers, an original, and a song written by his wife and son.
The thoughtful collection of songs complements the singer’s baritone voice. All the while, he manages to put his distinct spin on the classics. At times, bluegrass elements are intertwined within the standards, as is Turner’s country influence.
The album kicks off with an inspiring cover of Hank Williams’ “I Saw the Light.” The reimagined version highlights Turner’s mesmerizing voice before Sonya Isaacs’ spot-on harmonies enter, leaving the listener instantly uplifted. The song is followed by Loretta Lynn’s “I Pray My Way Out of Trouble,” which features Turner’s slowed and distinct baritone. With bluegrass instrumentation and harmony assistance from bluegrass legend Bobby Osborne of the Osborne Brothers, it’s a standout moment on the record.
A man of faith, Turner gives a fresh take on many gospel standards. On the striking hymn “Great Is Your Faithfulness,” Turner’s voice soothes, while his deep baritone shines on “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.” He once again blends bluegrass and country on “Amazing Grace.” Slowing down the standard at the track’s start, the unique music arrangement leaves a mark. By the song’s end, an electric guitar and added percussion pick up the pace, taking the song to new heights.
It is on “Without Him” that Turner’s voice is best highlighted. The singer’s favorite hymn, “Without Him” was made popular by Elvis Presley when he included it on his 1967 How Great Thou Art record. Turner’s slowed version is memorable with light piano and guitar assisting alongside his comforting vocals.
Turner enlisted the help of his family for “The River (of Happiness).” Penned by his wife, Jennifer, and their oldest son, Hampton, it’s a sweet moment on the album. Jennifer provides piano and vocal accompaniment while all four of their sons sing on the track. Turner, meanwhile, wrote the album’s title track with Mark Narmore. Another memorable moment, mid-song he can be heard reciting Scripture from the Book of John.
Two of Turner’s concert staples, “Long Black Train” and “Me and God,” are included on the project. Recorded live at Gaither Studios, both give a taste of Turner’s live show. An inspired album, I Serve A Savior provides a much needed message of hope to the listener. Rooted firmly in his faith, it’s a wonder what took Turner so long to release a gospel album. Regardless, I Serve A Savior proves that his gospel album was well worth the wait and is a much anticipated addition to the singer’s catalog.