In the Cool of the Day, by Daniel Martin Moore

Nostalgic country-gospel records inhabit a liminal space between personal-historical document and genuine religious statement: these songs meant a lot to my family, and they mean something ambiguous to me. One of the best is Iris DeMent's Lifeline, on which the Pentecostal-raised agnostic gives heartfelt readings of her mother's favorite songs and even pens a thoroughly biblical original.

Daniel Martin Moore's latest follows this path but enlivens it a bit. Its 11 songs include seven traditional hymns. The arrangements—produced by Moore and Daniel Joseph Dorff—start with low-key traditional gospel but take a measure of liberty to loosen things up.

An "In the Garden" shuffle is a stylistic bridge too far, and a barebones "It Is Well with My Soul" exposes Moore's vocal limits. But he nails it with the up-tempo standard "Dark Road"—his mellow singing rendering the lyric deeply personal—and the straight-ahead jam on "Up Above My Head." Best of all is the title track, on which Moore's voice and Dorff's spare piano capture the haunting harmony of Jean Ritchie's song: