Greetings from Asheville, where good music is always found on the turntable. Today, our Classic Album Review is a 1993 release from Clay Walker. Clay Walker was part of the deluge of new acts who came into the genre during the 1990’s. He was part of a group of male vocalists dubbed “hat acts”, for their regular wearing of cowboy hats. Yet, unlike many of his contemporaries, Clay maintained popularity through 2010. he’s appeared in the top ten as recent as 2009, courtesy of “She Won’t Be Lonely Long”.
Today’s review looks back at his self-titled debut. Clay Walker, released by Giant Records in August 1993, peaked at eight on the country bestseller lists. It also peaked just outside the top 50 on the pop side. The album would be the first of six straight top ten albums for Clay. It also became the first of, so far, four million-selling albums for Clay Walker. Three out of the four singles from the album would not only make the top ten but would peak at number one.
Two of those number one hits open the disc. “Dreaming with My Eyes Wide Open” kicks things off, followed by “What’s It to You”. “Dreaming with My Eyes Wide Open” was the album’s last single, scoring during the Summer of 1994. “What’s It to You” the first single, debuted in late Summer, 1993. Both are full of rhythm, melody, and good Country sound. “What’s It to You” has some especially nice fiddle work. Both are great melodies.
“The Silence Speaks for Itself” is an attractive melody that will hold your attention. It’s one of those songs that takes a few listens to really grab you. Great steel guitar work, here, on this slow ballad.
One of the best album cuts on the album is “How to Make A Man Lonesome”, a definite hidden gem. One wonders how this got overlooked as a potential single. It has everything you could want; good lyrics, great melody, great sound.
“Next Step in Love” is an okay ballad, that didn’t do much for me, but you might like it.
The same story for me on “White Palace”. A bouncy track that did chart as an album track. But for me, its ok.
Another hidden gem is “Money Can’t Buy (The Love We Had)”. Again, a song that has it all, and could have been a single. I especially like the melody, here.
Another track that comes away more neutral, to me, is “Things I Should Have Said”. Not a bad track, but just kind of there. Mid-tempo.
Of the four singles, the only one not to make the top ten was the ballad “Where Do I Fit in The Picture?”. Peaking at eleven, the question must be asked, “How did it NOT make the top ten?” My theory? Country play lists were stuffed with up tempo tracks taking advantage of the line-dancing and other Country dances craze of that time. That seemed to make it harder for slower ballads to do as well. The only reason I can gather, as this was, and is, a great track.
My fave, though, of the four singles, is the album’s second single, “Live Until I Die”. It grabs your attention, immediately, with its fiddle-only beginning, and only gets better. Great track.
A medium tempo “I Don’t Know How Love Starts” wraps the album. A very good album track. A fine end to the album.
AVAILABILITY AND OVERALL THOUGHTS
An album worth picking up, either in new or used form. As of this writing, it is still available in CD form or in MP3 download. Used copies are pretty easy to find, as well, generally well under $10.
Overall, it was a solid-to-strong debut for Clay Walker. Though a couple of tracks aren’t as strong, the whole album is still a very good listen. The songs are, at worst, good, and at best, outstanding. Clay’s vocals are excellent, as well.
We are saving vinyl (and sometimes CD’s), one record at a time.
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ABOUT YOUR MOST HUMBLE AUTHOR
Mike the Country Musicologist is a lifelong music and radio fanatic, model railroader, lover of vintage agriculture, and big sports fan, including the Colts, Reds, Hurricanes, Pacers, Purdue & Butler Universities. He has collected records since childhood, focusing on classic country and top 40 oldies music. He convinced Vincennes University to give him an Associate’s Degree in broadcasting. He’s worked for several stations in Indiana and North Carolina. Be sure to follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.