Ray Price

She Wears My Ring

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She Wears My Ring Review

by Stephen Cook

Having for most part left behind the shuffle-beat honky tonk style he helped forge, Ray Price found new success as a country-pop singer by the mid-'60s, and although fans of his early hits "Crazy Arms" and "Heartaches by the Number" had difficulty with the change, many listeners accustomed to the pop-heavy Nashville sound or smooth croon of Jack Jones began listening up -- Price eventually reaped the benefits by scoring big hits with "Don't Mention It" and Kris Kristofferson's "For the Good Times." Out of the numerous pop albums Price recorded for Columbia, She Wears My Ring stands out with very decent material, strong arrangements, and Price's powerful, high lonesome voice. The title track opens with some light country-style guitar and piano as if to hint at the pure country left behind, but soon all thoughts of honky tonkin' are banished as a timpani roll, full-blown strings, and vocal choir all make it clear this is not going to be a barnburning affair; more like the preferred soundtrack for cocktail hour. Thankfully, though, Price's commanding voice and the urbane Ray Ellis arrangements keep the schmaltz in check . The easy listening wave rolls on as Price lays down the oft-recorded "Little Green Apples," the gently swaying "Remembering," and "Welcome to My World," which prefigures the country power ballad style of "For the Good Times." To spice up the laid-back mood a bit, Price includes the jazz-me-blues tinged "Trouble" and the mellow swinging "I'm Gonna Change Everything," even tipping his hat to one of country-pop's early stylists with the Patsy Cline-inspired "I've Been There Before." The standout track of the set, though, is the Jimmy Webb masterpiece "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," rivaling Glen Campbell's definitive version as Ray Ellis' opaque flute/vibe introduction and eerie vocal chorus beautifully frame Price's weather-beaten voice. In contrast to the grandly laid-back mood that dominates the album, Price is able to work up a little steam on the medium-tempo "Set Me Free" and hoe-down spirited "Walking on New Grass." With honky tonk touches, pungent country vocals, and pat lyrics of codependency and tavern life meshed seamlessly in with tasteful string and choir arrangements, She Wears My Ring remains the best release from Price's countrypolitan period.

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