Personnel: Bruce Watkins, Brian Ahern (acoustic guitar); John Willis, Reggie Young , J.T. Corenflos, Brent Mason (electric guitar); John Hughy, Paul Franklin (steel guitar); Marty Stuart (mandolin); Glen Duncan (fiddle); Gary Prim (keyboards); Eddie Bayers (drums); Curtis Young, Louis Nunley, Michael Black, Ray Walker, Millie Kirkum, Mark Ivey, Sheri Copeland, Bergen White, Gordon Stoker (background vocals).
Audio Mixers: Donivan Cowart; Billy Sherrill .
Recording information: Emerald Studios, Nashville, TN (1993).
The first posthumous release from George Jones is an archival release that was planned prior to his death in April 2013. Amazing Grace excavates a gospel album Jones recorded in 2002 with his longtime producer and collaborator Billy Sherrill. The two parted ways in 1991 when Jones jumped from Epic to MCA. Around the same time, Sherrill slipped into retirement and by most accounts he wasn't much interested in returning to the studio, but George convinced him to produce a collection of gospel tunes. Although Jones had released several gospel albums over the years -- Homecoming in Heaven appeared on UA in 1962; ten years later We Love to Sing About Jesus appeared on Epic -- but what turned into 2003's The Gospel Collection were his first dedicated album sessions for religious work, which is noteworthy but perhaps not as noteworthy as it being the last time Jones and Sherrill worked together. Although the production is perhaps a shade too crisp and clean, all of Sherrill's hallmarks are in place -- this is dramatic and lush, filled with crystalline guitars, echoing pianos, and creamy backing vocals -- providing a nice coda to their historic collaboration. Amazing Grace contains half of the 24 songs originally released on the 2003 double-disc The Gospel Collection (and one tune, "Great Judgement Morning," is a Brian Ahern production from 1994), but it gets these very, very nice and thoroughly underappreciated recordings back into circulation, which is a good start to Jones' posthumous career. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine