Personnel: Daryle Singletary; John Anderson (vocals); Danny Parks, Brent Mason (electric guitar); Mike Johnson (steel guitar); Aubrey Haynie, Joe Caverlee (fiddle); Hargus "Pig" Robbins, Catherine Styron Marx (piano); Duncan Mullins (bass instrument); Darrin Vincent (background vocals); Rhonda Vincent (vocals, background vocals); Ricky Skaggs (vocals); Bryan Sutton (acoustic guitar); Shannon Forrest (drums).
Recording information: Castle Studios, Franklin, TN; Colemine Studios, Smyrna, TN; Fun House Studios, Smyrna, TN.
Author: George Jones.
Photographer: Scott Hunter.
After five long years, Daryle Singletary returns to recording. From the sound of Straight from the Heart, it's like he never left. Singletary has been called many things since the idle 1990s when he began his singing career -- "new traditionalist," "neo-traditionalist," etc. -- yet he comes from a different, harder stock of vocalist: he stands tall in the great honky tonk lineage of singers like Ernest Tubb, George Jones, early Ray Price, Merle Haggard, and Buck Owens. The song choices on this set are a mix of modern tunes and country music standards -- Hag's "Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down," Jones' "These Days I Barely Get By" and "We're Gonna Hold On" (in duet with Rhonda Vincent), Hank Cochran's "Miami, My Amy," Harlan Howard's nugget "I've Got a Tiger by the Tail" (with Ricky Skaggs), and Bob Altman's "Black Sheep" (with John Anderson), among others. And for the record, he does these songs straight; he has no need to change an arrangement when his voice is so deep and pure. Certainly the production is a bit on the technological side, but that's the way things are done now, and these are not meant to be archival imitative recordings: they are new readings of heritage material. Singletary's got enough worldliness in the grain of his delivery to make these songs as relevant now as they were when they were first recorded, and enough chutzpah not to sound overly reverent, either. Straight from the Heart is a fine hardcore country music comeback from a truly great singer. ~ Thom Jurek