Hallelujah! That’s a common feeling whenever Howe Gelb puts out a new album, either solo or with his band Giant Sand. But this time the exclamation is even more fitting – Gelb is taking us to church!

Even when the subject matter is the uncertainty of what lies after death, like on “Get to Leave,” Gelb’s music is full of spirit thanks to his use of the Voices of Praise Gospel Choir. And when the good news thumps along with a bouncy rhythm (“Paradise Here Abouts”) you can expect some two-stepping atop the pews.

At first listen Gelb seems to deadpan speak his lyrics more than he does sing them; subsequent listening reveals that therein lies the charm – it’s like he’s just plopped down next to you with a cold beer and a fistful of stories and I defy you not to listen and enjoy every minute.

Grade: A