For his latest album, Michael W. Smith has partnered with Cracker Barrel restaurants for another collection of hymns—the appropriately titled Hymns II. Just like the first release, Smith exchanges his pop background for a front porch affair loaded with country and bluegrass instrumentation along with simpler, more sparse moments on the piano.
Hymns II’s highlight is evident from the opening notes. “Down to the River to Pray” commands your attention from the outset with its darker, sing-and-stomp approach. “I’ll Fly Away” deserves an all-out bluegrass approach, and that’s exactly what Smith gives it on another stellar track. Yet Smith’s tender approach on the piano on tracks like “Be Still My Soul” and “I Need Thee” gives this collection a wide range and emotional heft.
If you enjoyed Smith’s first hymns collection, or even his previous worship releases, Hymns II is a worthy addition to your collection.