by Sandra L. Toney
After my brother, Paul, saw Collin Raye perform in Nashville last summer, the rave reviews he gave motivated me to buy Raye's latest release, Extremes. I wasn't really familiar with this country music songster, and I was very surprised to learn that, after listening to his CD, I was actually acquainted with many songs sung by Raye. At the time, I had no idea who was singing the cute, upbeat "That's My Story," or the powerful ballad about what alcoholism can do to your life, "Little Rock." As I would learn from listening to Extremes, the talented Raye had performed both of these country music hits.
"That's My Story" tells a playful story about a husband staying out all night only to return home in the morning to a wife glaring at him over her coffee cup. He quickly explains to her that he fell asleep on that hammock in the backyard and that's where he's been all night. Unfortunately for him, she knew he was lying, but all along he courageously stuck to his guns, boldly claiming, "That's my story and I'm stickin' to it." When Raye is backed into a corner, however, he realizes his story might have to change, "Well I got that deer-in-the- headlights look/She read my face like the cover of a book she said/Don't expect me to believe all that static/Cause just last week I threw that hammock in the attic . . ."
Raye, however, is best known for his balladeering with such career-making tearjerkers as "Love, Me" and "In This Life" from his All I Can Be album (Epic, 1991). Extremes boasts quite a few ballads that meets Raye's high standards. "If I Were You" is a beautiful ballad and you actually believe Collin Raye is singing this song just for you as he croons, "Trust your heart to tell you/Everything you'll ever need/And if I were you/I'd fall in love with me." What woman could deny that emotional plea?
Other exceptional ballads on the album include "Man Of My Word" (in which Raye mysteriously sounds exactly like country singer Billy Dean), "Angel of No Mercy," "Dreaming My Dreams With You," and a meaningful song about how parents always welcome their children back home in "A Bible And A Bus Ticket Home." Every one of these songs could make it on today's country charts.
Perhaps the best ballad (and the best song) on the release happens to be "Little Rock," which already was released as a single and played on country radio stations all across America. It's about a topic that touches nearly every family in the
U.S. -- alcoholism. In the song, a man moves to another town, leaving behind his family as he sings, "I needed a new town for my new start/I'm sellin' VCRs in Arkansas at a Walmart." He goes on to tell he hasn't had a drink in nineteen days (which I guess is forever to an alcoholic). But, his biggest regret is that he let alcohol ruin his marriage, "Like a castle built upon the sand/I let love crumble in my hand." If nothing else, let's hope this important message on Collin Raye's Extremes can steer at least a few people clear of the destructive road called alcoholism.
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