The Rizdales

Blue Ain’t the Word: A Tribute to the Music of Ray Price

The RizdalesBlue Ain’t the Word: A Tribute to the Music of Ray Price
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Mainstream Nashville country has likely never been as mind-numbingly banal as now. That is why we desperately need records like this one, something defiantly retro that reminds us of the pleasures the sadly abused genre can provide when done right. They may hail from London, Ontario, but the Rizdales sound righteously Texan on this superb tribute to Ray Price (the fact that they've been warmly received by the Austin scene testifies to that). The late great Price passed away last December, but he remains a somewhat undervalued member of country's canon. This 15-song collection covers many of the classic songs popularized by the great singer.

The Rizdales are built around the married couple of Tom and Tara Dunphy, and over the course of five earlier albums, they've emerged as an effective songwriting team. Here, they concentrate on reinterpretation rather than composition, and the contrasting (and sometimes harmonizing) male and female vocals add variety to the covers. Tara's strong and clear voice shines equally on a tear-jerking ballad like "For The Good Times" as on the bluesy classic "Night Life" (written by Price's good pal Willie Nelson). Tom's vocal contributions are equally strong (as on the album highlight version of "Crazy Arms"), and the pair's trading of verses on "I'll Be There (If You Ever Want Me)" is especially effective. Pedal steel, courtesy of maestro Burke Carroll (Justin Rutledge), is featured prominently, as is fiddle, ensuring that a proper traditional sound is pervasive. The Rizdales' take on Price is certainly right. (Independent)
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