Picks and Pans Review: Devotion

updated 10/30/2000 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 10/30/2000 AT 01:00 AM EST

Aaron Neville (EMI Gospel/Tell It)

Album of the week

To describe some singers' voices as angelic would be hyperbolic, but not Aaron Neville's. Whether he's crooning country, pop or classic soul, his airy countertenor seems to float effortlessly amid the heavens. That's why it seems provident that Neville should record an all-gospel album, his first in a 33-year career. His voice is a remarkable instrument that can go tell it on the mountain without going over the top.

Neville's understated, beautifully measured vocals are the core of Devotion, from the traditional spirituals "Mary, Don't You Weep" and "Were You There?" to inspirational covers of Simon & Garfunkel's "Bridge over Troubled Water" and the Cat Stevens hit "Morning Has Broken." He can even elevate material that is less than divine, including "Singing You a Prayer," a contemporary gospel duet with son Ivan. He saves his best offering, though, for the children's hymn "Jesus Loves Me."

Bottom Line: Hallelujah!

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