Randy Travis 'Anniversary Celebration' Humphead/WB

One criticism that one often hears about todays bunch of country singers is that you just can't recognize them. So in that light I listened to this album, the first time, without reference to the credits to see just who stood out. It was true I couldn't identify that many other than a couple of standouts. A Few Ole Country Boys the second track in features Jamie Johnson who seems to have found his voice from the off. Others definitely benefit from singing with Randy Travis still powerful and distinctive voice but few overshadow his tempered voice and delivery. When I did look a couple of the duet partners names were new to me. Kristin Chenoweth is an actress and singer who joins Travis on Love Looks Good On You a song that is more Broadway than Bakersfield but delivered well. Better Class Of Losers/She Got The Rhythm is a nicely uptempo medley from Travis and Alan Jackson and highlights each distinctive stylings. Shelby Lynne gives a typically strong performance on Promises. One of the most powerful and affecting songs here is Road To Surrender a song that only makes sense when sung by people with years under their belt, its spiritual message is sung by Travis, Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson is as powerful as it gets. It's one of the more recent songs included in the collection and it's followed by a classic Diggin 'Up Bones with John Anderson who is another name from the past who is good to hear again. It's 25 years since Randy Travis magnificent Storms Of Life was a part of a wave of what was called New Traditionalists appeared (along with Steve Earle, Dwight Yoakam and Lyle Lovett) and many of these new younger vocalist owe as much to Travis, in their vocal nuances, as they do to earlier singers who influenced Randy Travis. Some of these earlier influences appear on Didn't We Shine and include George Jones, Ray Price, Connie Smith, Lorrie Morgan, Gene Watson and Joe Stampley all still vocally powerful. Produced by his long time producer Kyle Lehning it is a fitting tribute to Travis achievements and aptitude, and for sticking to a genre he clearly loves and has more to give to.