Daryle Singletary

That's Why I Sing This Way – 2002 (Audium)

Reviewed by Jon Weisberger

It's been almost four years since Daryle Singletary's last all-new album - 2000's Now And Again, his first release for Audium, recycled the hits from his three earlier Giant CDs alongside a handful of new tracks - and in the major label world, a collection of mostly classic country covers would be a major no-no.

Fortunately for his fans, Singletary's no longer playing that game, and the result pays off handsomely. Whether he's tearing through Buck Owens' "Love's Gonna Live Here Again" with Dwight Yoakam singing harmony or showing off his debt to Lefty Frizzell (largely by way of Keith Whitley) on "Long Black Veil," Singletary connects solidly with each song, offering versions that marry an old school delivery with a flair for contemporary touches in the arrangements. Guest appearances by Yoakam, George Jones, Merle Haggard and Johnny Paycheck, together with outstanding background vocals by bluegrass singers Rhonda and Darrin Vincent add just the right finish to the mix.

All but the most obsessive country fan will find some new or barely-remembered song here, and they're all winners. It may not be designed for maximum mainstream country radio airplay, but Singletary's new one gives listeners something even better by reminding us of how much life is left in the classics.