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Diamond Rio

IV – 1996 (Arista)

Reviewed by Brian Wahlert

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CDs by Diamond Rio

Lead singer Marty Roe says, "For this album, we decided that we were going for a more aggressive sound," and unfortunately, they succeeded. Between Jimmy Olander's distinctive guitar solos and the band's bluegrass bent, Diamond Rio's first two albums had unique sound. They started to lose it on the third album, and now with a change of producers (a trio including label head Tim DuBois, Michael D. Clute and the band), the transition to "new country" radio-and-line-dance band is nearly complete. The listener could easily mistake "Love Takes You There," with its big guitar and percussion opening, for BlackHawk, and without Gene Johnson's pretty but completely gratuitous mandolin, "Who Am I" would be just another boring power ballad. Also, the band only wrote one of the disc's songs: Olander's instrumental, "Big," which is destroyed by techno vocal sounds. Many of the other songs' melodies and lyrics are terribly convoluted, like the laughable line in "Walkin' Away": "These occasional moments of weakness/Only makes our love more strong." The boys need to listen to their first two albums to remember what made them country's best group just a few years back.