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Tracy Byrd

It's About Time – 1999 (RCA)

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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CDs by Tracy Byrd

The heartfelt, well-delivered title track of Tracy Byrd's label debut is a story about a spouse crying out to her husband that it's time to start paying more attention to things like his family and a "dream that's slowly fading." But that also could be a metaphor for Byrd's career. Steeped in the Texas honky tonk tradition, what Byrd became known for were novelties like "Watermelon Crawl" and pretty ballads like "Keeper of the Stars," his signature song.

But somewhere along the way, Byrd lost sight of his roots. Here, he tries to reclaim them. And while there is still a definite new country sound, Byrd at least steps in the right direction with great frequency ("Ain't It Just Like a Woman," "Proud of Me" ).

The best cut is a cooking cover of Hank Cochran's "Undo the Right," the two-stepper that shows how comfortable Byrd can be with the style. The shuffle hits musically, and Byrd's booming baritone matches it. His vocals are upfront throughout and are used to good effect. So is the backing band, especially fiddlers Johnny Gimble and Aubrey Haynie.

Byrd always has been a strong singer, but the material wasn't always up to snuff. With a sharp swing to a far more traditional country sound, the latter is clearly starting to match the former.