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Posted October 1, 2010
Songs about the continuous and cyclic nature of life
Playing Time – 42:11 -- Marty Raybon is trying to get past just being “the guy who use to sing with Shenandoah.” Recording for Columbia and RCA, that 5-piece country band from Muscle Shoals, Alabama charted in the 1980s and 90s with a number of sensitive ballads and inspired up-tempo numbers about everyday struggles related to love, home, roots and family. While the entertainer still sings songs like “The Church on Cumberland Road” to please audiences, he’s also simultaneously making his new mark as an eclectic musician who does it all -- country, bluegrass and gospel. Raised on bluegrass, Marty, his father and two brothers were all once part of The American Bluegrass Express. About 1985, Shenandoah burst on the scene. After winning many country music awards, the powerful and soulful singer was called to honor the Lord, as well as to form his own band called Full Circle, a name that represents his 360-degreemusical evolution and continuing genesis. With a number of trad-grass and gospel music albums under his belt (most recently “The Grass I Grew Up On”), Marty’s mostly acoustic country project (“When The Sand Runs Out”) has plenty of expressive messages suitable for both bluegrass and country radio airwaves. Written by Mike Curtis, “Who Are You?” is one example -- an engaging song that documents a man’s key life stages from infant to rebellious teenager to elderly man stricken with Alzheimer’s disease. Raybon likes songs about the continuous and cyclic nature of life, and here’s one that tells a story about coming full circle. Full Circle band members Shane Blackwell (lead guitar), Ashby Frank (mandolin), Glen Harrell (fiddle), and Edgar Loudermilk (bass) are all included. We also hear Nashville bluegrass session men Cody Kilby (guitar), Jim Mills (banjo), Stuart Duncan (fiddle), Jim VanCleve (fiddle), Shad Cobb (fiddle), Rob Ickes (Dobro), Andy Hall (Dobro), Mark Fain (bass, guitar), Brent Mason (electric guitar), and Paul Schelton (drums). Liner notes don’t acknowledge who plays the piano and synthesizer or who sings the harmony vocals. Perhaps Marty does them all, but he’s also been known to sing with his brother Tim. The CD opens with a reflective ballad previously recorded by Buddy Greene. Written by Patricia Ann Walker, “Looking for Suzanne” relates the story of a trucker’s twenty-year search for his daughter only to be sadly directed to a street corner to keep on looking. The set makes a rather dramatic jump into a raucous and electric “Shenandoah Saturday Night” where Marty exclaims “everything’s goin’ our way / the work’s all done, and it’s time to play.” The album’s veins run primarily with grassin’ blue blood. With drums, the acoustic cover of Dylan’s “You Ain’t Going Nowhere,” Bob McDill’s “Come Early Morning,” and Tim Menzie’s “You Can’t Throw Dirt” come across as rollicking folkish offerings with warmly nostalgic flavorings of bands like Poco or Buffalo Springfield. Previously recorded by Rascal Flatts, the title cut makes a strong declaration about living life for all it’s worth. You might also remember the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s rendition of “Down the Road.” Singing Josh Leo’s “Right Where I Belong,” Marty says that he doesn’t need much – one good woman, a few good friends, supper on the table, and a sermon on Sunday morning to keep strong. Of course, we also know that being on stage drives Marty’s ambition. The album’s closing numbers reinforce his beliefs about love, faith, family, and life’s adventures ahead. With the guidance of the Lord, Marty’s vision is to play many kinds of venues and cross-market his genre-spanning music. Still driving in the fast lane, Marty Raybon cWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.