Gospel quartet turned Country Music Hall of Fame inductees The Oak Ridge Boys' latest survey of American music, Front Porch Singin' (out June 11), includes a dreamy, hopeful reimagining of blues picker Keb' Mo's "Life is Beautiful."
Producer Dave Cobb's magic touch plus the timeless harmonies and seamless vocal interplay between Duane Allen, Joe Bonsall, Richard Sterban and William Lee Golden do this ray of sunshine from Keb' Mo's 2006 album Suitcase justice.
"I believe Duane found this song long ago and held on to it as he always does with a great song," Bonsall told Wide Open Country via email. "The timing of recording it in these troubled times is a divine coincidence in my humble opinion, because life is God's most precious gift this side of Salvation and people need to hear a simple message like 'Life is Beautiful' now more than ever! 'Somewhere in the world the sun is shining bright.' Yeah baby!!!"
The song brings the sort of positive message we've come to expect from the Oaks when revisiting old favorites ("Thank God For Kids") or giving their fresher material a listen ("Love, Light, and Healing").
"When I first heard Keb' Mo' sing 'Life Is Beautiful,' I was captured in its spell for days," Allen adds. "I could not get it out of my head. It is the perfect kind of song, with message, that I love to sing. I think we got it in the first or second take."
Keb' Mo's lyrics hit home more than ever as months dragged down by a pandemic give way to a brighter tomorrow.
The Oak Ridge Boys, named for a city in East Tennessee, entered the secular music world with the 1977 album Y'all Come Back Saloon. An ongoing run as Nashville stars brought us such hits as "Elvira," "American Made," "Bobbie Sue" and "Thank God For Kids." The group's blend of country and gospel quartet traditions has netted five Grammy Awards plus numerous ACM, CMA and Dove Awards honors.
Front Porch Singin' Track List
01. "Life Is Beautiful"
02. "Love, Light, And Healing"
03. "Old Ways"
04. "Promised Land"
05. "Red River Valley"
06. "Life's Railway To Heaven"
07. "Rock My Soul"
08. "Swing Down Chariot"
09. "'Till I See You Again"
10. "Unclouded Day"
11. "When He Calls"