Tracy Lawrence - Volume 1: Stairway to Heaven Highway to Hell
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Volume 1: Stairway to Heaven Highway to Hell (Self-released, 2021)

Tracy Lawrence

Reviewed by Michael Rampa

The first installment of Tracy Lawrence's career spanning "Hindsight 2020 is the clever "Stairway to Heaven Highway to Hell." He celebrates 30 years in the industry with this three-volume project. Each album features new material and choice cuts from his back catalog.

Volume 1 leads off with the title track, a rowdy Texas two stepper that would have been perfect for the "Urban Cowboy" soundtrack. There is plenty of twang and just the right amount of gloss to appeal to contemporary fans, something he has done his entire career. It is an autobiographical tale of wanting to live a good life of morality and faith while the trappings of the spotlight always seem to thwart that plan.

It is pretty standard for the genre, but the signature upbeat guitar and a baritone that has not lost a step sounds like Lawrence in his prime, which is always a good thing.

There is religious symbolism throughout the new songs. "Water" could be interpreted as a cleansing savior or a metaphor for alcohol. "Struggle Struggle" is about overcoming adversity knowing "the devil lives for your trouble." Some view re-recordings and acoustic versions as padding the run time, but the stripped-down version of 2011's Hard" Times "fits in perfectly with the flow.

Of the new material, "Lonely 101" is closest to his neoclassical roots as it features a rare steel guitar solo and lots of fiddle. While the back catalog features huge hits and a look back at a younger man's commercial prime, the new material feels much like a man coming to terms with his age gracefully.

CDs by Tracy Lawrence

Hindsight 2020 Volume 3: Angelina, 2022 Headlights, Taillights and Radios, 2013 The Rock, 2009 All Wrapped Up In Christmas, 2007 For the Love, 2007 Then & Now: The Hits Collection, 2005

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