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Randy Owen

One on One – 2008 (Broken Bow)

Reviewed by Robert Loy

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CDs by Randy Owen

Randy Owen was the lead singer of the popular band Alabama - popular with fans if not critics who got tired of them doing the same song over and over under different titles, i.e. is there really a nickel's worth of difference between Born Country; Down Home; Tennessee River; High Cotton; Song of the South - all the way back to their first hit single My Home's in Alabama. Perhaps realizing that they had exhausted all the possible ways to express the "I'm a happy redneck" sentiment, Alabama retired in 2003 to count their money and pat themselves on the back for their contributions to country music - making it blander and more repetitious.

This John-Rich produced project does not feel like a typical Alabama album. One difference is a sparseness of instrumentation. It's as though Owen doesn't want anything to overshadow his voice, which would be all right if the lyrics were better. Oh, they're not bland, on Slow and Steady, a breathy Owen croons "I want to kiss you all over from your head down to your feet" (podophilia didn't pop up often in Alabama songs.) Braid My Hair (about children with life-threatening diseases) sounds genuine and compassionate until you get to the last track, the 9/11-themed Pray Me Back Home (although predictably referred to "911" in the liner notes) and you realize he's just pushing all the buttons and pulling out all the stops - he actually recites "The Lord's Prayer" and "The Pledge of Allegiance" on this one, and still the only praying most listeners will do after listening to it is for Randy to reretire.