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Richie Allbright - If I'd Known Then 
Review By: George Peden, CSO Staff Journalist
5/23/09

Richie Allbright: If I’d Known Then

You ain't no Hank
You ain't no Haggard.
There ain't no songs about Willie and Waylon and you;
Well I'm not claiming to be any of them either;
But I come a hell of a lot closer than you do

I'm from south Texas, I was raised up on Rodriguez,
Ray Price, Gene Watson and old Gary Stewart too;
Now your leather britches may have brought you all your riches,
But your hat and boots are the only thing that's country about you.”

“You Ain’t No Hank “– Richie Allbright/Debra Coe

There is much today that passes as country music. There are many who pass as country music singers. The atrocities are all there. Just listen to modern radio. But every now and then and often by a stroke of good fortune, you stumble on to someone, usually outside the main fold of high rotation and industry dictates who restores the faith. Every now and then, you hear someone with something who grabs and holds the attention.

Meet Richie Allbright.

The voice comes travelled and worn. There’s a hurt. There’s passion and there’s a revealed history and an awkward truth to the tunes on his debut, “If I’d Known Then” (Electric Cactus Records). Richie Allbright has lived his music.

Growing up in the small town of Mathis, Texas, Allbright cherished the dream of being a country singer. He followed the youthful wannabe exuberance of every hopeful – he headed for Nashville. The year was 1994. The experience, according to his Myspace web site, was anything but a success. The temptations, the excesses, and the ultimate personal losses, including divorce, addiction and alcohol took their toll.

But that was then; life moves on. Things, people, situations and circumstances change. Rather than wallow, Allbright dusted himself down, refocused, and turned the cutting experiences of his life into tunes. His tunes. Armed with 12 crafted and powerful ones, a respected producer in Bill Green, and a hot and fired studio band, Allbright has realized triumph, at least the musical kind, can follow turmoil.

With a mainly self-written set of despair, shattered love and honest and open revelations, Allbright, as he says in his liner notes, has made an album of which he is proud.

Here at CSO we agree.

This album wins interest on several fronts. First: there’s the voice. Allbright sounds bonafide country – he knows, convincingly, how to sing, feel and express. As he shares in track two, “I Was Born This Way”. Then there’s attitude. And this album has it in heaps.

Listen to “You Ain’t No Hank”, with its swipe at the “hats” who peddle sales over substance. Those with little to offer, save good looks and a contrived image. Not unlike Texan Tommy Alverson, who penned and poked at the fashionable in the classic “Purty Boys”, Allbright isn’t being indulgent, just honest.

Cuts like “If I’d Known Then,” an autobiographical take on Music Row disappointments, “Where You’re Headed” and the openness of “Raised Right, Went Wrong” all continue with Allbright’s sharing of hard times and eventual recovery. Fittingly, the album closes with “Thank You Lord”, a charged nod to the power of something bigger than one’s own, often futile, efforts.

Ritchie Allbright has dug deep, coming up with a prized listen that offers honky-tonk county, all edged with tight playing and memorable tunes.

Ritchie Allbright. He ain’t no Hank. He ain’t no Haggard. But he is country -- and that, friends, comes a hell of a lot closer than many.

A two-word review: get it.


Click the pic to order from Amazon.com.

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