The Man and the Country

Full Circle (Doobie Shea)
Marty Raybon

By Bob Mitchell

You can take a man out of the country, but you cannot always take the country out of a man. And, if the man in question is Marty Raybon, no one in his right mind would want to take the country out of the man.

Raybon's voice catapulted a phenomenal group, Shenandoah, into a monstrous career in country music from the mid-1980s thru the early `90s. In this project, a Shenandoah hit such as "Next To You Next To Me" is revisited with a feel that is definitely bluegrass. However, "Ghost In This House" is strongly reminiscent of his days in country music. Although several tracks contain a strong Shenandoah influence, Full Circle is sure to please bluegrass fans. In addition to covering six bluegrass standards, Raybon wrote (or co-wrote) four impressive originals: "That's One," "All In The Hands of Jesus," "Everything," and "Webster's Definition." My favorites are the up-tempo "That's One" and the heartfelt "All In The Hands of Jesus."

Raybon is no stranger to bluegrass. A feature article in the February 2003 issue of Bluegrass Now notes that Raybon, along with his father and brothers formed a band that stayed busy in the late 70s and early 80s. The American Bluegrass Express toured extensively in Florida, Georgia and Alabama. His love for the music is obvious, especially in two Bill Monroe covers, three Jimmy Martin covers and one Flatt and Scruggs cover. Monroe's "Rocky Road Blues" and "White House Blues" are outstanding. Martin's "The Last Song," "Prayer Bells of Heaven" and "Home Run Man" are first rate. David Talbot's banjo, Shad Cobb's fiddle and Bryon Sutton's guitar work are filled with energy and imagination. Additional stellar backup is provided by Rob Ickes on dobro and harmony vocals from Sonya Isaacs, Paul Brewster and Tim Raybon.

All in all, "Full Circle" is a superb recording that will be on the charts very soon. On a five-star scale of excellence, this release is a five.