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Collin Raye - Twenty Years And Change
By: George Peden, CSO Staff Journalist

At his web site, the banner says it all: Music that speaks to your heart. Collin Raye is a veteran with over 15 Number One hits, a legion of global fans and a style that has endured buffering radio trends and a fickle hat and hair bent. A honed style of lump-in-the-throat ballads, country ditties with a humorous edge coupled with rocky boogie twangers, all add to a dependable artist who doesn’t fail to please.

Raye’s musical path comes cobbled with gold and platinum hits and memories, starting back in ‘91 with “Love Me”. Telling of the shared hopes between a grandad and a grandma, as seen through the eyes of the grandson, the song stayed high on the charts for three weeks. It was the ignition point that has seen hits like “In This Life”, “The River”, “Someone You Used To Know” and “Little Red Rodeo” keep this smooth Arkansan’s tour diary full. Tunes like the confronting tale of child abuse, “The Eleventh Commandment”, and the exposed problems of alcoholism heard on “Little Rock” also highlight Raye’s willingness to sing songs that hack into the social fabric.

Now for music fans looking for music that’ll speak to the heart, try Twenty Years And Change. Out on Aspirion Records, the 12 tracks find CR in fine voice –rich, moody and melodic. He’s been away too long. Four years since his last album, a good three making this, real fans should delight in his return. The time and labor has seen Raye roll up the sleeves and bag a co-write with Melissa Manchester on “All I Can Do Is Love You”. He also wrote the title track. He’s also co-produced the album.

The album opens with the Bob DiPiero, Rivers Rutherford and Tom Shapiro-penned, ‘I Know That’s Right”. With that talented trio of writers who could do wrong, not Raye, as he shares the moral worth of doing the right thing. The pounded intro track segues into the riff-riding tale of a woman on a whirlwind mission of emotional destruction, “Hurricane Jane”.

But a tune of interest on the album, and I’m left to ask why, is the misplaced Bellamy Bros hit, “Let Your Love Flow”. Why? Why? Why? There are some tracks so buried in the music bed you don’t touch, prod or overturn them for fear of killing the growth (unless your rendition brings new levels of change and excitement). I can only figure that it was late at night, a long day at the studio and home time loomed, because this doesn’t work. Well, not for me. The song burns into my mind with the remembered twang of Howard and David, but Raye has cut loose the moorings and run with an almost Buffett-like beach and bay calypso soft-soak. But! Heck! Everyone’s allowed one loss of sanity in album choices – and that’s Raye’s. For music that speaks to the heart, bypass here immediately. (Before the Raye loyalists come looking, I do remember David and Howard did The Reggae Cowboys album in ’98, covering the mentioned track in coconut and lime wrappings – but they did it better!)

However, a more rewarding experience comes with “Josephine”. The track, the longest on the album at over 5minutes, is a poignant tale set against a Civil backdrop. Given the world climate and our collective fears, the song is a revelation of how those at the front must feel when absent from home and loved ones; and, from that perspective, the song holds real and relevant sentiments for those who wait. For as we know: often, the toughest battle ends up fought at home. Raye’s rendition is sensitive and revealing, hallmarking the written skills of its tunesmith, Rory Feek. Without doubt it’s the standout cut on the album.

Classic Raye filters through on gems like the sought and realized love found on “The Search Is Over” – where romance is often closer than imagined. Listen also for beer-breath torment on “You’re Not Drinkin’ Enough”. The desperate truths of love going sour and losing at life are often reasons to raise the glass, only, as shown here, to find that escape route leads to a truthful song title. “Forgotten” and “Heart” both provide music to mull a coffee cup over, while the piano-rich “We’ll Be Alright”, a tale of confronting uncertain fears with love, makes for easy listening. “It’s Only Make Believe”, a hit written and recorded by Conway Twitty in the early ‘50s, rounds out the album. Again, I ponder, why? The song’s enjoyed its run, so why park it here? I would have preferred another Raye write, and he can write, as well heard on his expressive title cut, “Twenty Years And Change”.

Honestly? Apart from two tracks, I liked the album. There’s no doubting the obvious style and interpretation of someone who can milk the sentiment, and, then, turn those lyrics into something solid, something meaningful. Collin Raye has done that for years. This album allows him to continue what he does best.

www.collinraye.com

Twenty Years And Change song list:

To purchase the CD online just click on the album cover on the left. 
<----
1. I Know That's Right 
2. Hurricane Jane 
3. The Search Is Over 
4. Forgotten 
5. You're Not Drinkin' Enough 
6. Josephine 
7. Heart 
8. All I Can Do Is Love You 
9. Let Your Love Flow 
10. Twenty Years And Change 
11. We'll Be Alright 
12. It's Only Make Believe

Related Links:
www.CollinRaye.com - Official Website

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