Russell Smith

The End Is Not in Sight

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Returning to his solo career after over a decade spent as a Music Row songwriter, former Amazing Rhythm Aces singer Russell Smith released The End Is Not in Sight for Rick Hall's new Muscle Shoals imprint in 2002. Smith's familiar baritone growl, one of the most distinctive blue-eyed soul instruments of the '70s, sounds as good as ever throughout this album, and Mark Hall's production wisely avoids the temptation to make Smith sound like either the Dixie Chicks or Uncle Tupelo. Placed side by side with the Amazing Rhythm Aces' classic '70s records, it's hard to tell which is the new record. Unfortunately, that also applies to the songwriting. This album is larded with pleasant but unnecessary remakes of old Amazing Rhythm Aces hits like the title track, "Third Rate Romance," and "What I Learned from Loving You"; fine songs all, the new versions are simply retreads, adding nothing to the fine earlier versions. Most of the rest of the album consists of Smith's own versions of songs he's written for other artists, like Randy Travis' "Look Heart, No Hands," and these are more successful, but even they remind the listener that Russell Smith is a gifted songwriter who doesn't need to rest on past glories.

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