66: Diamond Rio (Diamond Rio)

Album: Diamond Rio
Artist: Diamond Rio
Year: 1991

1. Meet in the Middle
2. This State of Mind
3. They Don’t Make Hearts Like They Used To
4. Mirror, Mirror
5. The Ballad of Conley and Billy (The Proof’s in the Pickin’)
6. Nowhere Bound
7. It’s Gone
8. Norma Jean Riley
9. Mama Don’t Forget To Pray for Me
10. Pick Me Up
11. Poultry Promenade

Diamond Rio won the Horizon Award after bursting out onto the country scene with their debut self-titled album, and it’s easy to see why. Their music easily fit in with the more modern sound country was adopting while utilizing acoustic guitars, mandolins, and extensive use of keyboards. And for the most part, their lyrics were upbeat and optimistic, something not often heard in this genre.

Meet in the Middle, Mirror Mirror, and Norma Jean Riley are the crowd favorites. The first two are fine, but have lost something over the years. However, Norma Jean Riley, a song about a guy telling his friends where to go while he tries to pick up a woman out of his league, is still a great tune. Nowhere Bound is less interesting lyrically, but is a perfectly crafted song with great hooks. The Ballad of Conley and Billy heavily features the mandolin and is a treat to listen to. Even more so is Poultry Promenade, a pure instrumental, and a home run to end the album. It’s fast despite feeling effortless, and suggests a confidence that the band knew they were going to be around for a while.

And they were around for a while. In 12 years they released 7 studio albums and had 5 number one hits (as well as a slew of top tens), never letting up with the energy or optimism. They haven’t done much since 2002, as their sound seems to have lost popularity. But they were a breath of fresh air for country music in the 90’s.

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