One of the ten top-selling solo country artists of all time, Randy Travis has recorded the perfect country album. There is not one out-of-place note nor one false emotion on his superb new Around the Bend collection. His vocals have never sounded more expressive, better phrased or more soulfully shaded. Backed by cool fiddle work, his voice eases into slippery highs and lows while toying with the bluesy tune of “Around the Bend.” Few artists could be more convincing singing the stunning, cautionary lyric of the ballad “You Didn’t Have a Good Time.” “Faith in You,” the album’s debut single, is an extraordinarily emotive performance that alternates moments of meditation with flashes of passion. Each seems tailored to suit one mood or another of his sublimely burnished baritone. The bopping “Every Head Bowed,” for instance, is one chuckle after another. And there’s the wryly amusing toe-tapper “Everything I Own (Has Got a Dent).”
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Randy Travis [Around The Bend]| Posted October 07, 2008 [MAIN REVIEW]
I have to be perfectly honest with you. Country music is not my favorite style of music, but it does fit into Gospel music just like any other style of music. This is Christian Music Review's first attempt to write a review outside our normal comfort zone of Christian pop, rock and praise & worship music. So hopefully you like it and it doesn't totally bore you!
Around The Bend marks Travis' sixth Christian album and first country album in eight years. It's not one that will disappoint the Randy Travis fan either. I think one thing that people will notice right off the bat is Travis' trademark voice. It's funny, even though I don't listen to country music on a regular basis, Randy's voice sounds the 'most country' to me. That's funny to some, but it's true. To hear Randy sing, to me his voice is synonymous with country music. I guess I should listen to some more huh?
I think the first song that stuck out to me was “You Didn't Have A Good Time”. One thing I do like about country music is that there's almost always an interesting story behind each song. I think this one is one about regret about things that have happened under the influence of alcohol. Don't think alcoholism can effect just non-believers either. There are Christians out there that have dealt with this ongoing sin. The moral of the song reminds us that we must turn away from those things, and give them to God.
I got laughing when I first listened to the track, ”Every Head Bowed”. It's funny, I don't really hear a whole lot of funny verses in the music that I listen to and review, but after getting through this one, it just reminded me that even though you don't want to act like this in the house of God, every child is tempted. I didn't have those opportunities, but I can pretty much tell you, that's probably how it would have been for me. The verse that had me rolling was the one which said, “Straight to the KFC, cause we're gonna beat the Catholics there / While they're still confessing, we're blessing our mashed potatoes” Some might take offense to that, but I thought it was pretty funny. Now I am going to be sitting in church some Sunday thinking about KFC and those awful but somewhat tasteful fake mashed potatoes. Maybe. Maybe not.
“Faith In You” was another song that I liked. The song is slow-paced musically, but it's message kind of gets you thinking about everything that we have today, everything in which the Lord has given us, that we take for granted. It's those times that when we think we can go at it alone that the Lord reminds us that placing that faith in Him is the only way to truly make it to the other side. One verse that really struck me and questioned me was the verse which said, “The more I search for my significance seems the more I disappear / And I wonder have I made a difference in someone's life since I've been here?” Wow, I was dumb-founded by the very question. Ask yourself that question too. Have we really put our full faith and trust in God and used the knowledge and wisdom He's bestowed in us to make a difference in someone else's life? It's a thought.
Marriage to me should be the most important relationship in someone's life on the other side of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as one's Lord and Savior. “From Your Knees” should serve as a reminder as to how sacred and important we should view marriage. The song talks about a husband who has cheated on his wife of seventeen years, and repercussions associated with the act. I don't know about those married couples reading this think on this subject (especially you husbands), but your marriage is always worth fighting for. You made an oath to each other before God when you joined in marriage, before you take that step into adultery, just think of what it will cost you and who it will effect. Especially if you have children, it's not only the two of you who it will effect. I know this is just a song, but it really got me thinking about my own marriage. I would do anything to keep myself from destroying it and my home. The key to any marriage is keeping the Lord the center of the relationship. Love and everything else will follow.
Another song that got me chuckling was “Everything That I Own (Has A Dent)”. If everything you owned was either scratched, broken or dented, then you have some serious problems. Just kidding! No, not necessarily. You could also be a very clumsy person. Anger can cause many problems in a relationship and the material possessions in your life aren't the only things that can be dented. Relationships can be too. Hearts can be broken, but one thing is for sure, and that's the Lord can mend those broken and 'dented' hearts and restore them. One scripture I like to remember, especially when my wife and I have had an argument over something reminds me to never go to sleep angry. Deal with the issue at hand. Trust me, it will save headaches later on! The scripture that I am referring to is Ephesians 4:26 which says, “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath”. The music accompanying this track makes it even better. My wife would probably laugh if she listened to it too.
Overall Around The Bend was a great album. It definitely broadened my horizons musically. I can honestly say that my musical tastes are pretty diverse and as of recent time I have kind of opened up to country a bit. After all the Southern Gospel my wife loves to listen to, I have grown quite fond of the country music.
I haven't had the opportunity to listen to Randy's other country albums, so I really have nothing to compare, but I did enjoy listening through to this one. If you're a country music fan or just want something a little different to listen to, then give this one a try. You never know, you might enjoy it!
This is actually the very first country album that I have written a review for, so I apologize if I don't seem to be too educated in the genre. I really enjoyed this one, surprisingly. I tried to put it off on one of my other writers and the only response I got was, “Umm... I'm not sure. I will if you absolutely, positively want me”. Well, I got the hint Lord! I hope that this was good enough! I have actually gotten the opportunity to meet Randy in person and giving the fact that I had seen a few of his movies (and had not heard his music), I was actually quite surprised at how down to earth and humble he was.
The man comes across as one who takes his ministry seriously in wanting to uplift and glorify Jesus with his chosen style of music. Country music fan? Doesn't matter. I think Travis delivers on this album and who knows. Maybe I might listen to a little more country from now on. I like a good story. Especially one that has me laughing but at the same time, thinking about my own life story.
COUNTRY MUSIC GIANT CONTINUES 25-YEAR LEGACY WITH STURDY 11-SONG SET| Posted September 24, 2008
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. –Andrew Greer
This review has been reprinted on NRT with permission from Christian Music Planet. Click here to visit ChristianMusicPlanet.com today!