Can't Back Down

Collin Raye's swan song at Epic is predictably a mixed bag that once again seems to often misdirect the artist's considerable vocal powers.

Collin Raye's swan song at Epic is predictably a mixed bag that once again seems to often misdirect the artist's considerable vocal powers. Raye is underrated as a purveyor of energetic uptempos; his muscular tenor hammers expansive—if formulaic— "seize the moment" treatises like "Gypsy Honeymoon" and "Young as We're Ever Gonna Be." But as on past projects, Can't Back Down is weighed down by an overabundance of piano-based ballads, which, however well-performed, become snooze-inducing in the aggregate. In this category are the plodding "It Could Be That Easy," the calculatingly sappy "What I Need," and Michael McDonald's comatose "I Can Let Go Now." The closest things to country music here are the well-written "Ain't Nobody Gonna Take That From Me" and the soulful, softly percolating "Dancing With No Music Playing." Better yet are "You Always Get to Me," "What I Did for Love," and the neatly syncopated "One Desire," all of which Raye infuses with a smoldering sense of urgency. In any case, there are easily a half-dozen strong single opportunities here.—RW