In 1990, after 25 years of performing folk and country-rock and a brief fling on the pop charts, Michael Martin Murphey returned to his cowboy pedigree. While such a move might be considered a commercial one designed to capture the "roots" audience following the O Brother, Where Art Thou? craze, at the time he was only helping to revive a niche that seemed to be going the way of the longhorn. Furthermore, Murphey's attraction to the cowboy's way of life had less to do with a romantic whim than an attempt to preserve his own heritage. In 2002, Murphey continued to mine Texas tradition with Cowboy Classics: Playing Favorites II. Anyone with even a passing knowledge of Western music will recognize classics like "I Ride an Old Paint," "Red River Valley," and "Yellow Rose of Texas." There's a stately six-minute version of "Streets of Laredo," adorned with fiddle and piano, and a fine two-stepping take on "Whoopie Ti-Ti-Yo." Like a number of old-time musicians, Murphey includes a short note concerning each of the song's origins. He has no intention, however, of reproducing the music as it might have sounded around the campfire. Full acoustic arrangements of guitars, fiddle, accordion, and bass tastefully adorn Murphey's relaxed vocals. For anyone drawn to music flavored by the open Western landscape, Cowboy Classics: Playing Favorites II more than satisfies the inner cowpoke.
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AllMusic Review by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.