Larry Blumenfeld
April 09, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Staked to Mel Gibson’s film by just a marketing hook, this compilation of faith-based songs is curious — and marvelous. There are classic-album picks (Leon Russell’s ”Stranger in a Strange Land”), savvy insider choices (Leonard Cohen’s ”By the Rivers Dark”), Elvis, Dylan, and — best of all — striking new tracks: Holly Williams whispering granddad Hank’s ”How Can You Refuse Him Now” and Ricky Skaggs’ a cappella ”Are You Afraid to Die.” Songs evokes compassion, which makes us wonder: Wasn’t Mel listening?

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