Randy Travis

Influence, Vol. 2: The Man I Am

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Like the first volume which was also recorded in 2012, Influence, Vol. 2: The Man I Am doesn't offer much in the way of surprises, but nobody would want a curveball from Randy Travis on an album like this, anyway. Compared to the 2013 set, this 2014 album doesn't lean so heavily on Merle Haggard -- he's still present in a nice version of "Are the Good Times Really Over," plus covers of Lefty Frizzell's "That's the Way Love Goes" and Jimmie Rodgers' "California Blues" -- and he also tips his hat to such early titans as Hank Snow ("I'm Movin' On") and Ernest Tubb ("You Nearly Lose Your Mind"), not to mention such progressive mavericks as Waylon Jennings ("Only Daddy That'll Walk the Line") and Kris Kristofferson, whose "Sunday Morning Coming Down" and "For the Good Times" are both here (the former is set to a nice bit of Johnny Cash train-track rhythms). Travis sounds relaxed but invested and, similarly, his band is professional but not without flair, always pointing the spotlight at the singer and occasionally easing into a tasteful solo. That casualness is the appeal of Influence, Vol. 2: he makes it sound easy when you know damn well it isn't.

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