A spiritual thread runs through a number of tracks ranging from the theologically generic “I’ll Fly Away” (Alison Krauss and Gillian Welch) to the Christ-centric “Angel Band” (The Stanley Brothers) which features the line, “O bear my longing heart to Him who bled and died for me/Whose blood now cleanses from all sin and gives me victory.” In between, the Soggy Bottom Boys are confident of seeing a loved one in eternity on the mournful “I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow,” while The Whites advise listeners to “trust in our Savior” through good times and bad. Other themes include prayer (“Down to the River to Pray” by Alison Krauss), working for God (“In the Highways” by Sarah, Hannah and Leah Peasall) and seeking His forgiveness (“Lonesome Valley” by Fairfield Four).
A hobo’s heaven on “In the Big Rock Candy Mountain” includes “cigarette trees,” lakes of whiskey and “streams of alcohol”—a theme likely to put some unfortunate questions in the minds of younger listeners.
Because of its down-home, mountain-music style, this CD astonished many by beating out artists such as U2 and Alicia Keys at the 2002 Grammys, taking home Album of the Year along with four other awards. Equally astounding is its 5 million units (and counting) in sales and its continued presence in the Top 10 even after more than a year. With some seed-planting spiritual nuggets, this blast from the past is a deserving award winner. Hopefully, we’ll see more successful siblings to this Brother.