NASHVILLE, Oct. 17 (UPI) -- Anyone not paying attention will consider Randy Travis' latest album just another country music offering from the veteran singer.
The music on "Rise and Shine," which was released Oct. 15, features edgy fiddles, steel guitars and foot-stomping melodies, in addition to harmonious guitar lines in ballads that showcase Travis' unmistakable baritone, all signature marks of his multi-platinum musical career.
At a closer listen, one will hear frequent references to Jesus, Heaven, and praying.
"Rise and Shine," released by Word Records, is Travis' second inspirational album. His first gospel record, "Inspirational Journey," which was released in 2000, earned Travis a Grammy nomination and two Dove Awards from the Gospel Music Association.
"I wanted to record another inspirational CD for several reasons," Travis said. "One being the response from ... 'Inspirational Journey.' The many letters and calls concerning the effect it had on peoples' lives, also the love for writing and recording a Christian message. And probably the most rewarding is the performance for an audience that loves the Lord."
Travis recorded the project in Santa Fe, where he now lives with his wife and long-time manager, Elizabeth Hatcher Travis. He co-wrote six of the 13 songs on "Rise and Shine," including the title track.
"The first time we played ('Rise and Shine') we were at an Easter show, and obviously (the song), given the lyrics, fits in well with Easter," Travis said. "All right, we received a standing ovation from an audience that had never heard it before, and this is just me and two other guys with guitars singing. So that lets you know you've got something. Well, it happened four times in a row.
"The only other song that I remember seeing that happen night after night with people who'd never heard it before was 'Forever and Ever, Amen' (a No. 1 song for Travis)."
The album mixes a heavy, serious song about the Book of Revelations called "Jerusalem's Cry" with a song featuring an upbeat Chet Atkins-type guitar-picking tune called "Keep Your Lure In The Water" about soul saving. Travis even tucks in a comical ditty about baptism called "Pray for the Fish."
"I like to laugh," Travis said. "I like people with a good sense of humor and I like to find those kind of off-the-wall songs with a sense of humor ... So we found this song, and the first time I listened to it, I thought, 'That's great.' It's a little off-the-wall, so we'll record it.' It's certainly not a life-changing song, but it's something with a little humor in it."
On the other hand, Travis is unafraid of taking a serious stand on a political forum on "Everywhere We Go." Lyrically, he attacks those who want to stop the public display of Biblical and moral words, such as the Ten Commandments and the Pledge of Allegiance.
"Over the years, you keep hearing about this judge saying it's illegal to say the Pledge of Allegiance, and somebody who is, say, an atheist who's mad about anything having to do with prayer in the schools, no Ten Commandments ... Just so much of that in the past years has been in the news," Travis said. "There's no other way to say it: Personally, I think they're a bunch of nuts. We knew we were getting into some heavy territory (with this song). I knew we'd be asked about it, but just watch the news and you can come up with the answers, I guess."
"Rise and Shine" does an excellent job of providing variety, yet never veering far from the stone-cold country music that Travis himself made famous.