Faith in You

Steve Wariner

(Digital Download - Capitol #)

Review by William Ruhlmann

Steve Wariner's third Capitol album, Faith in You, is another consistent, craftsman-like effort from an artist who has made the most of his second chance in country music. Wariner has had the advantage that he is, at heart, a player more than a frontman, and his abilities as a guitarist, understated but always apparent in the style of his mentor, Chet Atkins, provide a basic level of enjoyment no matter what else is going on. Wariner is also a formalist who can write and perform a Western swing tune, like "I Just Do," and make it sound authentic. Faith in You contains several such genre exercises, as the singer/songwriter/guitarist picks his way through everything from the rock & roll sound of "Katie Wants a Fast One" (featuring Garth Brooks) to the gospel style of "Blinded," along the way standing toe to toe with Clint Black on "Been There," and coaxing a typically expressive effort from co-writer Rodney Crowell with the Mexican-tinged "Longer Letter Later." His "Holes in the Floor of Heaven" set a standard for sentimental, philosophical story songs in recent country music, and Wariner comes up with several of them here, the most obvious winner being "Turn in the Road," though "Waiting in the Wings" and "I Wish I Were a Train" also fit the bill, and any of the three would make good singles. "Traditionalist" is a term with a specific meaning in country music, so it can't really be used to describe Wariner, who is a master of a variety of country subgenres, each of which has its own tradition. His approach may not be as admirable as that of a truly original artist, but country is a music that rewards adherence to its heritage, and country has no more faithful servant than Steve Wariner.

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