The irony of naming his new album Never Going Back isn't lost on Collin Raye. His new songs may subtly recall the great, organic music of a bygone era but instead of stepping back in time he pulls the sound right up into the future. At a time when pop hits are built by teams of master songwriters and musicians, Never Going Back (released April 28th on Time Life) is a welcome return to the art of the artist.
Mixing up the laid back rock and folk of mid-seventies Southern California with country and rock n' roll, Raye creates a sophisticated and diverse album for the music fan who cheered when The Eagles won a country music Grammy. Never Going Back evokes the spirit of the day when an artist could record an album and perform it just as it sounds in a smoky club or on a stadium stage. No dancers, no pyrotechnics, no backing tracks and overdubs, just great songs by a great artist. “Before this, I'd never done an album where I've wanted to immediately go out and perform the whole thing,” explains Raye. Recorded in Alabama's historic Muscle Shoals, the album feels guided by the ghosts of the country, rock, blues and pop albums that the region cultivated throughout the 70s.
From the roaring, feel-good romp of “Mid Life Chrysler” to the powerful reworking of “Without You,” a duet with Grammy nominee Susan Ashton, Never Going Back bears another trademark of the LP years; a great listen from start to finish. While every tune is as finely crafted as the next, one song, in particular, remains unforgettable. The intensely personal “She's With Me,” written by Raye for his severely neurologically ill granddaughter, is a poignant song of unconditional love.
“This is the album I've always wanted to do,” says Raye, a weighty statement from the man who has four #1 Billboard country singles, 21 Top 10, four platinum albums, three AC hits, several CMA and ACM nominations and years of sold out tours already under his belt. And true to his word, he'll head out on tour right as Never Going Back is released, ready to play every single track onstage each night.