With the release of his new album, At His Best, Marty Raybon finds himself at a unique point in life. The CD, released Tuesday, is stocked with songs that grapple with the transitions one encounters as time moves ahead. On Saturday, he’ll travel back in time, a bit, when his old band Shenandoah performs together for the first time in a dozen years.
Much of the album adheres to the changing nature of life and the ways people try to cope. The first single, “Daddy Phone,” struggles with the realignment of a family after a divorce. Other songs recognize the maturing of a son into adulthood, the dreaded mid-life transition and the ultimate segue, the end of life.
Not that Marty intended for At His Best to have a transitional theme when he started working on it.
“When all of it’s in the form of fabrication — tryin’ to put everything together, this piece goes with this, and this piece goes with that — there’s a lot of things that kinda ease out and what you find at the end of it, is it’s really the things I felt,” Marty says. “I try to look at everything in a positive light to where you know, well, for some reason or another that one got to stick, because it seemed like it made sense. It seemed like [each song] kinda fell into the place where it needed to fall into.”
The subject matter is pretty appropriate for Marty, who hit a milestone recently that often leads to a lot of contemplation about the past and a reassessment of the future.
“I celebrated my 50th year alive in December this past year,” Marty offers.
And he’s embracing most everything that comes with it, “the middle-age crisis, the change and all that other stuff — except for the gray hair. Fine animal products take care of that for me.”
Marty’s not nearly as bothered by the silver, he says, as his wife. She’s the one who insisted he start dyeing his locks.
With the new solo album in the marketplace, Marty will get a little nostalgic this weekend when he hooks up with his buddies from Shenandoah. The band carved out a bevy of hits in the late 1980s and early ‘90s with “The Church On Cumberland Road,” “Two Dozen Roses,” “Janie Baker’s Love Slave” and “Next To You, Next To Me,” among others, but hasn’t performed together for 12 years. The group headlines the second annual Erica Carmen Droze Memorial Benefit Concert at the Boaz VFW Fairgrounds in Alabama to raise money for a domestic-violence shelter.
Also on the bill at the benefit, according to The Sand Mountain Reporter: Mark Collie, Jeff Bates, guitarist-producer Randy Kohrs, bluegrass vocalist Ronnie Bowman, former “American Idol” competitor Corey Clark and local performer Billy Ryan.