Ray Price

Texas Platters

Phases and Stages

Ray Price

Time (Audium)

Ray Price's forte has got to be the shuffle. Smooth, romantic, melancholy shuffles. This time around, the 76-year-old country music legend is reunited with members of his Sixties Nashville A-team of studio players, with none other than Billy Sherrill producing. The results are typically lush and supple. "You Just Don't Love Me Anymore" kicks things off with one of those trademark shuffles, and Price's signature weariness. "Ft. Worth, Texas" is one of the few uptempo songs on the disc (written by Cindy Walker), a light little ditty about Cowtown's charms. Still, it's near impossible to imagine anyone else getting to the heart of sad songs the way Ray Price does, and on titles like "I'm Not Leaving (I'm Just Getting Out of Your Way)" and "If It's All the Same to You," his voice takes on the familiar intimacy that made his Sixties hits so heartbreaking. To his credit, helmsman Sherrill eschews Sixties country-pop string sections and background singers on this go-around, opting for sparser arrangements, the occasional acoustic guitar, and a living-room ambience. It puts Price in his element, coupling a more up-to-date sound with his inimitable voice and a sprinkling of songs by longtime songwriters Harlan Howard and Cindy Walker tossed in for good measure. If you listen to his version of Howard's "What If I Say Goodbye" and don't feel a twinge, then you might want to make sure there's not a dead fish where your heart ought to be. (Ray Price plays Stubb's Saturday, Sept. 14.)

***.5

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