Personnel: Larry Gatlin (acoustic guitar); Steve Darrell Smith (acoustic guitar, electric guitar); Wanda Vick (acoustic guitar, dobro, mandolin, fiddle); Randy Scruggs, Rudy Gatlin, Steven Sheehan (acoustic guitar); Jamie Hartford (electric guitar, mandolin); Troy Lancaster, Tom Bukovac, Danny Parks (electric guitar); Bobby Terry (gut-string guitar); Hoot Hester (mandolin, fiddle); Joe Spivey (mandolin); Kristin Wilkinson (violin, viola); Larry Franklin (fiddle); Pat Bergeson (harmonica); Jeff Taylor (accordion); Jimmy Nichols (piano, synthesizer); Dirk Johnson, John Hobbs, Tony Harrell (piano); Dennis Crouch (upright bass); Bob Marinelli, Larry Paxton, Michael Rhodes , Steve Gatlin (bass guitar); George Perilli, Tommy Harden (drums, percussion); Rick Lonow, John Gardner (drums); Chuck Turner (percussion).
Audio Mixers: Chuck Turner; Dennis Ritchie; Ed Seay; Luke Wooten.
Liner Note Author: John Carter Cash.
Illustrator: Wayne Brezinka.
There comes a time in every person's life when he or she sits back to take stock; PILGRIMAGE represents that moment for Larry Gatlin. One of the pioneers of pop-country in the '70s, Gatlin here returns to those roots, delivering an album that ironically, when compared to his shiny-sounding late-aughts Nashville musical descendents, sounds positively down home. Woven throughout the record are short spoken word interludes in which Gatlin reflects upon his musical journey and his creative and personal relationships with elder legends such as Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, and Roger Miller. The disc's title is a reference to Gatlin's 1973 debut album THE PILGRIM, and the new album shares that record's matching of traditional, finely-crafted country songwriting with smooth vocal harmonies and pop-style instrumental textures reminiscent of country rockers such as the Eagles and Poco. On "Say Nashville-Whaddya Say?" Gatlin recognizes the changing times and explicitly asks fans for acceptance, while "Sweet Becky Walker" is a fairly straightforward, and perhaps more vibrant-sounding, re-cutting of the Texas native's first hit single, bringing his career full-circle. Perhaps the most poignant moment, however, is the song "Johnny Cash is Dead (And His House Burned Down)," which at once pays tribute to the master while encouraging young bucks to aspire to Cash's legacy. Throughout, Gatlin and his brothers sound re-energized and confident, and as a result deliver one of the most consistent, engaging, and soulful albums of their career.