Collin Raye

Live at Billy Bob's Texas

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Collin Raye parted ways with his longtime record label, Epic, after his 2001 album, Can't Back Down, and before he released a new album of original material, he decided to cut a live album for his first independent release since becoming a star. And that live release was part of Smith Music Group's successful Live at Billy Bob's Texas series, which recorded recent live concerts at the legendary Fort Worth venue and released them as tandem CD and DVD sets. Some of these Live at Billy Bob's Texas discs have represented career highlights -- David Allan Coe's is tremendous, for instance -- while others are a little rote. Raye doesn't hit either extreme with his entry. The album simply captures Raye doing a highly professional, high-energy set of his hits. At first it's a little too high-energy, as he really pushes "My Kind of Girl" too hard to get the set off to an energetic start, but soon the music reaches an amiable equilibrium, balancing skillfully between sentimental ballads and friendly honky tonkers. While there's nothing surprising -- Raye isn't suddenly revealed as a hardcore country purist -- it's a smooth and satisfying listen, a good first live effort, and a record that's sure to please longtime fans.

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