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Randy Travis, ‘Anniversary Celebration’ – Album Review

Randy Travis '25th Anniversary Collection'
Warner Music Nashville

Randy Travis‘ new album is not a greatest hits package. Sure, there are a few of his best known cuts sprinkled amongst the 17 songs on ‘Anniversary Collection’ (due out on June 7), but there are a few new songs as well. Each one is a fresh recording, with Travis proving he has a voice that is sorely missed in country music right now. At the end of the 61-minute project, he leaves one begging for him commit to at least a part-time schedule a la George Strait or Reba.

Travis’ collaborators reads like a list of country award show performers: Brad Paisley, Carrie Underwood, Josh Turner, Kenny Chesney, Alan Jackson, Willie Nelson, Tim McGraw and many more. A few pairings feel not insincere, but certainly unexpected. Who knew the Zac Brown Band were such fans of Travis? How did actress Kristin Chenoweth get an invite? Why does Don Henley continue to appear on everything short of Oprah’s couch?

The best moments are with the artists who are clearly influenced by Travis’ legendary career. Beginning with ‘A Few Ole Country Boys (originally on Travis’ ‘Heroes and Friends’ album)’ featuring Jamey Johnson, Travis works his way through the lyrics like an easy conversation between old friends. ‘T.I.M.E.,’ a new song featuring Josh Turner, is similarly playful. The two bass voices offer this wise advice to men listening: “Women spell love T-I-M-E.”

Later on the album, Carrie Underwood shares vocals with Travis on ‘Is It Still Over?’ from his 1989 ‘Old 8×10′ album. The two remake the magic they shared on the award winning ‘I Told You So’ duet. Few male singers can compliment a voice like Underwood’s, but throughout the album Travis proves he’s actually grown as a singer during the last decade. His performance with John Anderson on ‘Diggin’ Up Bones’ is goosebump material.

George Jones, Lorrie Morgan, and Ray Price are amongst Travis’s conspirators on ‘Didn’t We Shine,’ the album’s most poignant moment. The ballad plays like a reflection on once great careers. “Didn’t we shine / Didn’t we shine / Didn’t we share and care and lay our hearts on the line,” the group asks, while one visualizes rocking chairs, playful punches in the arm and maybe a teardrop or two blamed on allergies. The answer to this rhetoric is “Yes! Absolutely, you did.” But in Travis’ case he still shines, and there’s no reason he couldn’t produce hit music after 25 years. Hopefully this next to last track isn’t a swan song, but motivation for an encore. ‘Everything and All’ is expected to be released to radio later this summer.

Taste of Country Rating 5 Stars

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