For God And Country takes the listener through a worthwhile and poignant journey of spirituality and patriotism. Opening with a brief a cappella hymn based on the 23rd Psalm, followed by a reading of the entire passage (King James version), and closing with an a cappella rendition of The Lord's Prayer, the disc is praiseful and reverent, but it has some lighter moments as well.
The second track is the national anthem, a clear and crisp vocal accompanied by orchestral instruments and missing the sometimes disrespectful vocal acrobatics which so often are infused in the song. The love for country continues with "God Bless The USA," changing the lines "start over with my children and my wife" to "all over with just my family by my side" and "the men who died" to "the ones who died" to recognize the sacrifices of America's women.
"Light Of A Clear Blue Morning" is fairly similar to the arrangement used on the Straight Talk soundtrack, and "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" is an emotional tribute to soldiers present and past with an additional line honoring the women of the armed forces. "Welcome Home" tells the tale of a father welcoming a son home returning from war and Jesus welcoming home one who didn't. And "Gee, Ma, I Wanna Go Home" is a fun complaint of military life, complete with a stand-up monologue delivered in a style similar to that of Bob Hope.
One of the album's true highlights is "Whispering Hope," which Dolly presents as a lush a cappella choral performance similar to how one would expect to hear Handel or Gounod arranged. It is followed by "There Will Be Peace In The Valley For Me" with Grammy-winning soul gospel group The Fairfield Four. "Red White And Bluegrass" is rollickin' patriotic fun, and "My Country 'Tis" is a treatment of "My Country 'Tis Of Thee" I would have never imagined - up tempo and bluegrass to the core. It works spectacularly.
"I'm Gonna Miss You" ranks as one of Dolly's most emotional performances ever recorded and is one of the best tracks on the CD. Prepare to grab a tissue on this one.
Another highlight is "Go To Hell," in which Dolly tells Satan to "go to Hell in a handbasket, 'cause Heaven waits for me." About two-thirds of the way through the song, which finds Dolly belting out in her best gospel voice, she becomes a tent revival preacher delivering a sermon, complete with congregation. You almost feel like you're there with her shoutin' "Amen!"
I have never personally liked the song "Ballad Of The Green Beret," but Dolly's version is palatable and much improved from the original. "Brave Little Soldier," which first appeared on her 1994 live album and was written in honor of a niece battling leukemia, is moving (it's the same version she lipsynched on The John Walsh Show last month). And "Tie A Yellow Ribbon" is fun. "Color Me America," which she wrote on Sept. 12, 2001, continues to touch the heart, and the album's close with the a cappella "The Glory Forever," in which Dolly has written music for The Lord's Prayer, is one of her strongest performances ever.
Some may find a few songs, such as "God Bless The USA," to be a bit overproduced, but all-in-all, this collection is certain to find a place in the dozen or so best albums of Dolly's long career and continues the trend-setting music she has been producing over the past four years. The album is produced by Dolly with Kent Wills and Tony Smith. Get it as soon as you can when it comes out on Veterans' Day!