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Ray Hood

Reviewed by Tom Netherland

No doubt Ray Hood wants to be a country star. Perhaps that explains his slick, so-so debut. Despite a strong baritone and Nashville's leading session men backing his dozen tracks, Hood simply veers too from the country fold.

"Risky Business" features Southern-rock styled guitars. Not country guitars. Now, that's not to say there aren't some pretty fair country tracks. Like "Wait'll I Get My Hands On You." As a steel guitar roils in the background, Hood's voice reaches a high point, emotive and capable. Perhaps not classic, but fine nonetheless. And then there's "She Can't Sleep." A passable fiddle 'n' steel ballad full of country blue, its otherwise fair lyrics are saved by Hood's mesmerizing performance. He doesn't sound like a singer singing yet another rote number. He believes what he sings and sings what he believes.

So why the Southern-rock schlock of such songs as "Freedom"? Ernest Tubb once sang that you should do what you do do well. Perhaps Hood should take Tubb's heed, dive headfirst into the country and let that wonderful voice come to its full realization. Otherwise, he's just another singer in a rock and roll band. And that's not country.

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