Kimmie Rhodes, Rich From the Journey

Peter Blackstock

By Peter Blackstock

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

On her 1997 album West Texas Heaven, Kimmie Rhodes established herself as a charming country chanteuse with considerable cachet, able to rope in the likes of Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Townes Van Zandt as duet partners. Rhodes '2000 disc Rich from the Journey, however, headed in a decidedly different direction, though one very well-suited to the angelic sweetness of her voice. There's less guitar twang on this disc and greater dependence on keyboard textures; softly ringing organ soundscapes loom large in the background on several tracks. Rhodes decorates many of the songs with delicate layers of vocal harmony, further fashioning a sonic richness that befits the album's name. The light touch of the music extends to the lyrics, too; Rhodes chose to write her own material rather than rely on gospel standards, and she consistently forsakes hard-sell religiosity, giving voice instead to majestically serene celebrations of everyday spiritual beauty in songs such as "Thank You for Another Day" and "God's Acre." She finally lets loose on the last track, "Bells of Joy," its soulful swing and swampy rhythm connecting to a whole 'nother branch of the gospel tree.