My Kind of Country

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

Tag Archives: Jon Gray

Album Review: Ray Price – ‘Beauty Is … The Final Sessions’

Ray PriceRay Price’s swan song was recorded last year while the legendary singer was battling pancreatic cancer. Beauty Is … The Final Sessions is a combination of countrypolitan and traditional pop, in the style for which Price was known in the 1970s when he scored such hits as “For The Good Times”, “I Won’t Mention It Again”, and “You’re The Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me”.

Released on the independent Amerimonte label, Beauty Is contains a number of names among its credits that will be familiar to long-time country fans, from Fred Foster, who produced the project, and Bergen White who conducted the orchestra to Vince Gill and Martina McBride who lend some vocal support. “Beauty Is In The Eyes of The Beholder” was written by Jon Gray and Rich Grissom, and went unrecorded for nearly twenty years, having been rejected by a number of marquee names such as Garth Brooks, Reba McEntire, John Michael Montgomery, and Whitney Houston. Kenny Rogers apparently recorded it but that version was never released. The lovely string-laden ballad is the first of two tunes featuring harmony vocals by Vince Gill; the second is a very nice version of the Cindy Walker-penned “Until Then”, which is the best song on the album. Willie Nelson’s “It Always Will Be” is a close second, although the background vocals on this track are a little too saccharine for my liking.

Ray Price began his recording career in 1948 as a honky-tonk singer and was later derided as a pop sell-out when he embraced the countrypolitan sound that was in vogue in the early 70s. There are no hardcore country songs on Beauty Is, but there are a few very nice traditional pop numbers including “I Believe”, “Among My Souvenirs”, and “An Affair To Remember”, which is performed as a duet with Martina McBride.

Beauty Is may be a bit too mellow for some tastes, and it might have benefited from an uptempo number or two, but Price knew who his core audience was and wisely avoided chasing more contemporary trends. Although his voice lacked the range of his heyday, it was in remarkably good condition and it is difficult to remember that Price was an 87-year-old man in failing health at the time these recordings were made. It doesn’t contain any stretches or surprises, but it is a very fitting capstone to a career that spanned more than six decades and a gift that Ray Price fans are sure to treasure.

Grade: B+