STYLE: Country RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 85714-15882 LABEL: Word Curb FORMAT: CD Album ITEMS: 1
Reviewed by Ian Thomson
After a six-year hiatus, broken only by an album of Christmas covers, the Tennessee-based mainstream country hitmakers are back with 'The Reason' - and they still have all their original band members! The exquisite vocal harmonies are still there, and, on some tracks, the songs still exhibit the country-sensibilities that Rio fans recognise. The first change is one of theme: on the Word Entertainment label, Diamond Rio are now free to pursue spiritual themes in more depth than under Arista. "The Reason" faces off selfishness against faith; "Wherever I Am", "God Is There" and other tracks respond to the trials of life; and "In God We Still Trust" attempts to unite the USA under a theist banner (although the result smacks of gratuitous Christian back-slapping). Musically, the band has assimilated many norms of the CCM genre. More pop now than country, the brief moments of traditional sound from the mandolin and violin ("My God Does" and "Wherever I Am") remind us what has been lost. In truth, a lot of the tracks here resemble the smooth pop sounds of a group like 4Him. The music is no less professional or tightly-rounded; the cutting edge, however, has been traded in for a sound that US Christian radio stations will love. I fear some older fans may be less impressed.
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