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Russell Smith

The End Is Not in Sight – 2006 (Muscle Shoals)

Reviewed by Joel Bernstein

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CDs by Russell Smith

Russell Smith has one of the most distinctive and unmistakable voices in music today. His soulful, plaintive vocals haven't landed his signing on the radio much, but as vocalist with the long-running Amazing Rhythm Aces as well as the short -lived bluegrass/R&B/comedy band Run C&W, Smith has a developed a cult following for his recordings.

No starving artist is he, however. Smith has been an enormously successful songwriter, and this album finds him recording many of his best known compositions. Included are number one country hits he wrote for Randy Travis, Ricky Van Shelton, Don Williams and T. Graham Brown ("Look Heart, No Hands," "Keep It Between the Lines," "Heartbeat in the Darkness" and "Don't Go to Strangers") plus a number five for John Conlee ("Old School").

Smith imbues these and other songs here with his usual blend of funk and twang. There's yet another version of "Third Rate Romance," done New Orleans style with an emphasis on piano, and the Rhythm Aces' other big hit, this album's title song. Throughout, there is a lot of that classic Muscle Shoals R&B sound with many of the veteran session players who made the place famous.