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Davis Raines

Parts Unknown – 2003 (Shell Point)

Reviewed by Eli Messinger

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CDs by Davis Raines

Singer/songwriter Davis Raines may never gain the world renowned of intellectual brothers like Waylon and Willie, but his keen observations of life and the road, painted in original, often fanciful word pictures, is something fans of Jennings and Nelson (and Keen and Earle) should hear.

His songs essay the travails of a showman's life, unfortunate interpersonal intersections and the love for a favorite pair of boots ("they're sweet on my feet and they're tough as a mustang"). He writes with the incisiveness of pulp fiction giant Jim Thompson on his first-person narrative of a wrestler's life, "Mr. X," vents his NashVegas frustration in "Music City Blues" and dreams of the transporting freedom of AM's promise in "Radioland."

Davis' delivery is so unassuming and natural that the brilliance of his phrase making can pass you by on first listen. He sings of feeling "as edgy as a brand new knife," and effortlessly rhymes the couplet "so break out the breakdown, we'll give 'er a whirl / put fog on the mountain with Lester & Earl." The musical accompaniment, filled with fiddle, mandolin, dulcimer, accordion, banjo and acoustic guitars provides fine backing, accenting the folky-side of Raines' songs.

Having started his musical career in his mid-30s, Raines is unlikely to ride the fast track to Nashville stardom, but CDs like this will build him a reputation among those who take a few steps off the beaten path.