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Daryle Singletary

Rockin' In The Country – 2009 (E1)

Reviewed by Michael Sudhalter

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CDs by Daryle Singletary

manages to put a modern day spin on a pair of classic-style songs. The album's name is ironic given that Daryle Singletary's music is far from rockin country, but the title track - which includes Charlie Daniels Band - is really about Farm Aid and how CDB and Willie Nelson raise money so farmers can keep their land. Everyone in America knows about the foreclosure crisis, and Singletary puts it into heart-wrenching ballad form like only a traditional country song could with Real Estate Hands about a home that's on the verge of being repossessed and how all of the memories cannot have a price tag on them.

Singletary helped write just 1 of the 12 songs - the soft-sounding ballad, She's A Woman but he employed an impressive list of songwriters, including Paul Overstreet, Billy Lawson, Billy Yates and Jimmy Wayne. Singletary has the ability to turn what would probably be a pop-country song - the Wayne-penned, Going Through Hell (With You Again) into something so unabashedly country.

He also scores big on a pair of cover songs by late country stars Vern Gosdin and John Denver, respectively. How Can I Believe In You shows that Singletary is carrying the torch for the type of music that Gosdin spent a lifetime performing; Singletary's bonus track, Take Me Home, Country Roads proves to be far more of a country song than Denver's original version. Singletary's rich baritone serves him well on the romantic Love You With The Lights On.

The highlight, however, is clearly She Sure Looks Good In Black where Singletary steps into He Stopped Loving Her Today territory with a tale of a dead man narrating his widow's presence at his funeral. To set the tone, Singletary's piano player, Gordon Mote, opens the song with a southern preacher's opening words at the funeral. There are powerful lyrics in the song like, my momma hates her, my daddy blames her, my sister swears it's all an act. If she had wore red, she could have raised the dead, but my lord, that woman, sure looks good in black."

There are a few missteps, such as the incredibly sappy That's Why God Made Me and They Know How To Grow 'Em. The latter is too silly and does little to separate Singletary from his peers the way the rest of the album is able to do.