My Gospel
Lightning Rod

Before beginning work on My Gospel, Austin’s Paul Cauthen (formerly of Sons of Fathers) reportedly dared God to present him with some manifestation of faith. It’s unclear if his prayer was answered, but Cauthen’s take on life’s uncertainties, the transcendental quality of love and loss and the feelings of mortality that haunt everyone as they age does have a spiritual quality. His weary baritone is supported by a band that lays down a relentless, stomping beat, featuring plenty of twang-heavy guitar and piano and organ work by producer Beau Patrick Bedford that nods to the gospel and soul sounds at the root of the music. “As Young as You’ll Ever Be” winks at death with an ironic lyric and a melody that’s halfway between the church and a honky-tonk. “Saddle” has a big, wide-open sound created by background vocals that blow through the arrangement like a dry desert wind and the wolf-like howls the band adds to punctuate the last verse. Cauthen delivers “Let It Burn,” a song of unrequited longing, with a quiet intensity that brings a smoldering passion to lost love. And the female vocalists on “Be There Soon” and “My Gospel” provide a sanctified, churchy aura to songs that adapt religious language to express the struggle for the love and acceptance that may never come. — j. poet