Daryle Singletary Bows Album of Country Standards

Following the path Alan Jackson widened in 1999 with Under the Influence, his homage to classic country tunes, Daryle Singletary debuted his own collection of long-ago favorites Tuesday (May 7) called That’s Why I Sing This Way. Only the title cut is new.

Unlike Jackson, however, who had only Jimmy Buffett as guest vocalist on his project, Singletary’s album is studded with illustrious drop-ins. Dwight Yoakam sings harmony on “Love’s Gonna Live Here,” the 1963 Buck Owens hit. George Jones does the same on a new version of his 1967 chart-topper, “Walk Through This World With Me.”

John Wesley Ryles chimes in on “Kay,” the song that brought him to the charts in 1968 (as John Wesley Ryles I).
Merle Haggard takes a turn on “Make-Up and Faded Blue Jeans,” a song he originally recorded in 1980 but which wasn’t released as a single until 1985. And
Johnny PayCheck provides the recitation for “Old Violin,” his own prescient valedictory from 1986.

But the guest artist meriting the most bravos is the peerless bluegrass diva Rhonda Vincent , who was Singletary’s labelmate briefly on the now-defunct Giant Records. She and her brother, Darrin, sing harmony on most of the cuts — and she trades vocal licks masterfully with Singletary on their reprise of Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty ’s 1971 bridge-burner, “After the Fire Is Gone.”

While Singletary respects his original models, he is too adept an interpreter of lyrics to imitate them. His conversational delivery makes the songs sound more personal than nostalgic, as though he is mulling over the sentiments for the first time.

The other hat-tipping tracks are “I’d Love to Lay You Down” (Twitty, 1980); “A-11” (PayCheck, 1965); “Long Black Veil”
(Lefty Frizzell , 1959); “I Never Go Around Mirrors” (Lefty Frizzell, 1959, with the extra lyrics Frizzell’s co-writer, Sanger D. “Whitey” Shafer, wrote for
Keith Whitley ’s 1988 cover); and “Dim Lights, Thick Smoke (And Loud, Loud Music)” (Joe and Rose Lee Maphis, 1978).

The title track, a Max D. Barnes composition, is a good-humored toast to country music’s most durable stylist. It carries the refrain, “My mama used to whup me/With a George Jones album/That’s why I sing this way.” This is the first single from the album and has already been sent to radio stations.

Beginning as a protégé of Randy Travis , Singletary has always taken the traditional music route. He made his chart bow in 1995 with “I’m Living Up to Her Low Expectations” and over the next two years had three Top 5 hits — “I Let Her Lie,” “Too Much Fun” and “Amen Kind of Love.” He recorded three albums for Giant but left the label well before it closed last April. His first album for Audium, Now & Again, came out in July 2000.

This spring, summer and early fall, Singletary will be on the road with Rhett Akins and
Wade Hayes for the “Honky Tonk Tailgate Party” tour.

Edward Morris is a veteran of country music journalism. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and is a frequent contributor to CMT.com.