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Diamond Rio

Completely – 2002 (Arista)

Reviewed by Jon Weisberger

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CDs by Diamond Rio

Diamond Rio has always had a broad stylistic range, but on their latest, the sextet has come up with an assortment of cuts that cut an even wider swath through the country mainstream. It may not have much in the way of artistic coherence, but this more than makes up for it by offering a collection that has something for just about every kind of country music fan.

Though the band does a typically polished job on big ballads ("I Believe" and the title track among them) and peppy country-rockers like "Wrinkles" and "Big Ol' Fire," with its neat banjo and mandolin licks, there's some atypical fare, too, where they stretch out to embrace new sounds. "If You'd Like Some Lovin'" (co-written by honkytonker David Ball) and "Make Sure You've Got It All," by Bill Anderson and SteveWariner, are more squarely in a traditional vein than almost anything the group has done to date, while "Something Cool" finds them in an elegantly lounge-y swing mood. The group describes "The Box" as "Steely Dan meets Flatt & Scruggs"; that's right on the money, and so is the music itself, a snazzy mix of things you wouldn't normally expect to find together that ends up working well. There's even a manic instrumental, "Rural Philharmonic," that's got everything but the kitchen sink.

After a bit of a commercial let-up, Diamond Rio came back strong last year with "One More Day," a monster hit that largely overshadowed the rest of a strong album. It's unlikely that anything here will have that kind of impact, but in the long run the group's probably better off for it; "Completely" offers a more rounded portrait of a group with many strengths.