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Collin Raye

Can't Back Down – 2002 (Epic)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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CDs by Collin Raye

Collin Raye may be committed to not backing down, but he seemingly has never seen a big empty gesture he didn't like. Or so the evidence from this new release suggests.

"End of the World," for example, suggests that the very elements themselves would disintegrate into a ball of nothingness if his girl ever left him. And while such a plot line might make for an eye-catching big budget Hollywood movie, such grandness doesn't work well at all for good country music.

Country music's best perspective has always been to focus on the small worlds orbiting in our skulls; the indoor fireworks of infidelity and the slow burn of a broken heart. But such emotions are apparently too microscopic for Raye to even see. With this Raye recording, one is bombarded with the sonic blast of songs like "One Desire," which would have been more fitting for use as an Eighties REO Speedwagon or Journey power ballad.

Then there is "Young As We're Ever Gonna Be," which has all the superficial feel of a Bruce Springsteen "Thunder Road journey," albeit without those gripping personal details and distinctive Boss vocal dynamics that never fail to move us.

Collin Raye sings all these sincere sentiments as if his very life depended upon them, but it's ultimately a pity to hear so much energy artistic wasted on a such a dull collection of bland statements.