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Michael Ray

Amos – 2018 (Warner Nashville)

Reviewed by Michael Rampa

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CDs by Michael Ray

Michael Ray's sophomore album, "Amos," is a tribute to his late grandfather. He expresses his appreciation on the insert with a lengthy and heartfelt bio of their special relationship. Though not explicitly stated, Ray infers that he learned that he would be best served by staying in his own lane. In this case, holding down the front man role while leaving the songwriting duties to the likes of Ross Copperman, Shane McAnally and Luke Laird and Jaren Johnston of The Cadillac Three. He did not have a hand in penning any of the 11 tracks. The album opens with "Fan Girl," a radio friendly number indicative of the tone of the rest of the disc. The catchy melodies roll along in a pleasant, yet somewhat sonically indistinctive continuum. Each is suitable for a variety of radio formats.

The midpoint features the standout, "Her World Or Mine" a hurting ballad where it is unclear whether the man or the woman is the party in pain. Perhaps not coincidentally, Ray was going through a breakup at the time (He has since become engaged to Carly Pearce).

The closer "Drink One For Me" is a tribute to members of the military. Ray has battled severe anxiety since childhood and with grandfather serving as guitar teacher, country music historian and advisor to the family band Country Cousins, Ray clearly has a good knowledge and appreciation for the genre. It's an equation that adds up to enough life experience to try his hand at songwriting. The closest the listener can get to his coastal Florida roots and anything autobiographical is "Summer Water." But then again, one must infer since he didn't have a hand in penning it. It would be nice to hear what he has to say for himself.