My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Album Review: Collin Raye – ‘Tracks’

tracksCollin Raye was one of country music’s hottest male singers during the 1990s but by the end of the decade his career had begun to lose momentum. Though 1998’s The Walls Came Down managed to produce three Top 10 singles, it sold only about half the number of copies of his previous albums, and was his first album not to earn platinum certification. In an effort to remain commercially viable, he changed musical directions and released Tracks, an album that is as uninspired as its title. Dann Huff was his new co-producer — which is never a good sign — and the album that resulted found Collin moving even further away from his country roots and further into R&B and mainstream pop.

The opening track, “She’s All That” is a retread of 1994’s “My Kind of Girl” and could just as easily been titled “Been There, Done That”. Radio programmers were unimpressed; when the track was released as the album’s third single, it topped out at #43. The second track “I Want To Be There” is a tedious R&B flavored number and the third track “Completely”, while slightly more country-sounding, is equally tiresome.

“Couldn’t Last A Moment” isn’t one of my favorite Collin Raye songs, but it’s one of the better songs in this collection. The spoken intro reminds me of one of Conway Twitty’s early 80s efforts. Released as a single in advance of the album, “Couldn’t Last A Moment” brought Raye into the Top 10 one final time, landing at #3. The uptempo and more country-sounding “A Long Way To Go” is a breath of fresh air and is by far the album’s best track.

Two of the album’s tracks — “Harder Cards” and “Water and Bridges” were co-produced by Paul Worley, and both were later covered by Kenny Rogers. “Harder Cards” is told from the point of view of a policeman who is dealing with the dregs of humanity, while “Water and Bridges” is the story of an unplanned pregnancy that ends with an abortion and the regret that lingers long afterward.

Aside from “The Gift”, which was a previously unreleased track on Collin’s 1997 hits compilation, none of his previous albums contained any duets. “Loving This Way”, a duet with soap star Bobbie Eakes, is a mainstream pop ballad. It’s a bit overproduced and not very country, but it’s not a bad song. It was more suited to adult contemporary radio, though it did not make the AC charts at all. It stalled at #50 on the country charts.

The album’s closing number “She’s Gonna Fly” is about an Alzheimer’s patient whose caregiver questions the Almighty’s motives. It’s meant to be inspirational but the it’s too saccharine for my taste.

Tracks did little to change Collin Raye’s declining commercial fortunes. It failed to earn gold status and marked the beginning of the end of his dominance on the singles charts. It is one of his poorer efforts and arguably his worst album. It is not essential listening but used copies are available very cheaply, so those who want to hear it can do so affordably.

Grade: C

2 responses to “Album Review: Collin Raye – ‘Tracks’

  1. Erik Pettersen March 20, 2013 at 8:35 pm

    I’ve been catching up with the blog these last couple of hours, and I am really impressed with how it has turned out – you guys have all grown into such stellar writers, and I love how the blog has sort of become the antithesis to sites that do nothing but push current, commercially relevant country. Kudos!
    This is actually the only Collin Raye album I own (blame it on cheap, used copies), and it flows nicely, which means it sort of works within the concept of a musical album. The fact that there are no standouts hurts it considerably though, and I think a C grade is appropriate. I must say that Collin, based on this album and his singles, is a thoroughly unimpressive artist for me – which is not to say bad, but he never reached the heights of Reba, Trisha, Garth or even Tim McGraw in my opinion.

    • Occasional Hope March 21, 2013 at 4:15 am

      He has a beautiful voice. but the fact that his early work is much better than the later indictaes to me that he’s someone who benefits from the guidance of a good producer.

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