At His Best

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Best known as the lead singer for country band Shenandoah, Marty Raybon has spent his solo career moving back and forth across the narrow divide between country and bluegrass music. His latest collection finds him at a place where he seems most comfortable: singing mostly tender traditional country songs that suit his pure tenor voice. “Daddy Phone” is a touching ballad about a father’s desire to maintain a connection with his son after a divorce. Meanwhile, Marty’s voice still holds its signature warmth on the swampy “The Heat Is On” and the emotional “You Get Me.” “Still My Little Man” is a personal message from Marty to his military son.
However, getting comfortable is not necessarily a good thing musically. Too many songs here sound the same, with similar rhythms and instrumental backings. Instead of spreading his wings, Marty seems content mining the same types of songs that were popular in his Shenandoah days. Fans of that now-defunct band might be inclined to agree with the promise contained in the title of At His Best, but those who love hearing him cut loose on his beloved bluegrass and gospel styles may hope Marty’s best is still to come.

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