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Album Spotlight: Randy Travis, ‘Influence Vol. 1: The Man I Am’

Influence Vol. 1
Warner Bros.

Randy Travis‘ ‘Influence Vol. 1: The Man I Am’ is a simple collection of covers from artists that inspired him. Merle Haggard is the most represented singer, with eight cuts influenced by or recorded by him at some point. Three of the first four are Haggard songs, with ‘What Have You Got Planned Tonight Diana’ being the one to remember.

Speaking of time / I guess you know mine’s about up / I’m gonna see you tonight / Just another breath or two / And I’ll be home,” Travis says during a spoken-word bridge that forces memories of ‘Angels.’ It’s impossible not to wonder about Travis’ physical condition when you hear these words. More accurately, it’s impossible not to wonder if he’s delivering a message.

With updates slowing to a stop, one’s imagination fills in the blanks. That’s dangerous, but it’s also human nature. The timing of this release will influence how and if fans are able to enjoy it.

In some ways, the health issues Travis has been suffering from overshadow the fine recordings on ‘Influence.’ ‘My Mary’ seems surely dedicated to fiancee Mary Beougher, even thought the song is 30 years old and it’s not clear when Travis cut this album. ‘Someday We’ll Look Back’ feels more haunting than it would otherwise. Lefty Frizzell, Waylon Jennings and Ernest Tubb are three more artists recognized on this retrospective. Each song uniquely showcases the singer’s vocal capabilities, creating a fluid mix from top to bottom.

Tracks to Remember: ‘Someday We’ll Look Back,’ ‘What Have You Got Planned Tonight Diana,’ ‘Tonight I’m Playing Possum’

Hey Big Spender!: ‘Big Butter and Egg Man’ is a jazz hit from the 1920s, originally performed by Louis Armstrong. The title is a slang term for someone with deep pockets and an eagerness to spend.

Did You Know?: Travis samples from over 90 years of music and country music on this album. ‘Trouble in Mind’ was first released in 1924!

Next: The Best Country Albums of 2013 So Far

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