"I'm too country, and proud of it/if you don't like it, well, you can shove it," sang Nashville songsmith Billy Yates on his 2001 album, If I Could Go Back. Yates, forged in the same fire that produced hardcore country legends George Jones and Merle Haggard, wasn't being cute, he was being real. Country music, the traditional kind, is what Yates has always loved, written, and recorded; the six-string troubadour has never been afraid to wear his old-school colors for all the world to see. On his sixth studio album, That's Why I Run, Yates digs deep in the dirt for a batch of hardcore country diamonds. From the swirling organ and slinky steel guitar of "Like a Radio," a rollicking toe-tapper, to the soul-bleached vocals of "A Man Who Knows," an emotionally stinging spiritual number, Yates aims straight for the heart with every song on the 13-track collection. "I Don't Know How to Live," with its plaintive fiddle and lightly picked acoustic guitars, is a beautifully crafted love song, the kind that makes women melt and men think. Yates spins country gold as he ponders life without the one he loves. This is what country music is all about, real people singing about real things. Yates may be considered by some to be too country, but to his faithful fans, he's perfect just the way he is.
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AllMusic Review by Todd Sterling