Randy Travis

Influence, Vol. 1: The Man I Am

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As Randy Travis has never attempted to shroud his influences in secrecy, there aren't a lot of surprises on Influence, Vol. 1: The Man I Am. He does romp through Louis Armstrong's "Big Butter and Egg Man," but there are so many Merle Haggard tunes ("Someday We'll Look Back," "What Have You Got Planned Tonight Diana," "Ever Changing Woman," "I'm Always on a Mountain When I Fall") this could almost be classified as a tribute. After all, the Bob Wills song here, "Trouble in Mind," was a Merle Haggard staple, and the Lefty Frizzell and Ernest Tubb songs ("Saginaw, Michigan" and "Trouble in Mind," respectively) seem as if he cut them. Travis stretches out a little bit at the end by recording Waylon Jennings' version of Billy Joe Shaver's "You Asked Me To," and saluting George Jones via a version of "Why Baby Why" and his newly written tribute "Tonight I'm Playing Possum," a new song that provides the hook into this covers record and is a pretty good little tune. The whole affair doesn't deliver anything unexpected, but that's also its appeal: Travis doesn't surprise, he satisfies, and hearing him sing songs he loves is certainly a good time.

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