In 2000, Randy Travis
devoted himself to gospel music, and 2004's Passing Through
is the fourth religious record he cut since then, but there's a difference here: instead of focusing on explicitly Christian material, Travis
has collected a set of songs and stories about how faith affects life. It's inspirational music in the purest sense -- it doesn't preach, it instructs and inspires through its carefully observed tales. Musically, Passing Through
is classic hardcore country, alternating between sentimental ballads and straight-ahead honky tonk and country-folk. Similarly, the songs themselves tell tales that are classic country, but the difference is that each has a subtle message or religious undercurrent to it. It all makes for a very strong album, either in contemporary Christian terms or by a purely musical yardstick, and it's further proof that Travis
's traditionalist country continues to reap considerable rewards.