Artist:  Randy Travis
Title:  Around the Bend
Label:  Warner Bros.

Country music giant continues 25-year legacy with sturdy 11-song set …

Thank goodness for Randy Travis. As a country music staple for a quarter century, the man with the booming bass has become iconic, not only in country music but in the worlds of film and television as well. The stats speak for themselves:  21 million albums sold, six GRAMMY Awards, six Dove Awards, nine ACMs and five CMAs, plus 10 American Music Awards. It is safe to say he has become one of the most endearing musical acts of all time.

For the past eight years, Travis has been taking advantage of Warner Bros.’ relationship with Christian music mammoth Word Records, recording and releasing primarily gospel music, winning him droves of new fans and purporting a reliable insurgence in his already legendary career. But with the release of Around the Bend, Travis returns to his celebrated brand of storytelling songs that first endeared him to audiences in the mid-’80s with hits like “Forever and Ever, Amen” and “Diggin’ Up Bones.”

The title track kicks it off with fiddles turning around Travis’ emotional vocal:  “One day I’ll wake on a distant shore/My soul some place it’s never been before/I don’t know what waits/But I am not afraid ...”

“You Didn’t Have a Good Time” is a classically constructed ballad journaling a man’s wrestle with his conscience and the bottle, especially convicting considering Travis’ former fight with alcohol. Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright” delightfully shuffles under a vintage electric guitar and lickin’ dobro, making it a surprise stand-out and proving Travis is indeed a champion song picker.

“Everything That I Own (Has Got a Dent)” and “Every Head Bowed” flaunts Randy’s best backwoods sensibilities, showing he mastered verses of wit long before Brad Paisley was parodying celebrities or singing about ticks.

As other veteran artists’ careers autopilot, their recorded material becomes weak and dated. So, it is remarkable then that Travis, after 25 years of making music, has likely recorded his choicest album to date. With so many significant songs and such impeccable interpretations, Around the Bend will be playing in listeners’ iPods for a long time to come.

 
 
©2008 ChristianMusicPlanet.com.  All rights reserved.  Used with permission.

*This review first published on September 22, 2008.