Weekly Wire
Austin Chronicle Album Review: Victory

AUGUST 17, 1998: 

SHAVER

The first song Billy Joe Shaver sings on Victory is an a capella original, and halfway through comes a lyric that serves notice for the album as a whole: "Silent sacred solitude how it knits upon my brow." What follows is a thoughtful, often fierce string of country gospel originals, as Shaver brings his considerable talents to bear on the inner workings of his faith. The result is a simple album filled with unshakable conviction, one that explores the wonders of saving grace while never straying toward the daunting or didactic. The favored subjects are "five and dimers" and fallen angels, rough-hewn penitents of the sort Shaver played in The Apostle; the favored vehicle is a mix of guileless confession with the gospel truth. "Ain't no way to get around it," Shaver sings, "you just can't beat Jesus Christ." Victory is an insistently religious album, and for all of its fallen angels, an insistently optimistic one as well. It is also insistently personal, born of a hard-won faith and spelled in simple language. The album's emotional power is both direct and cumulative, and it's hard not to listen with a touch of awe, regardless of the needlepoint on one's own spiritual compass.

4 Stars - Jay Hardwig


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