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Album Review

By 2001, it was hard for traditional country singers to insulate themselves from the crossover, dollar-is-king mentality that had overtaken Music Row. Acts like Rascal Flatts, Kenny Chesney, and Sugarland owed more to the pop and rock worlds than they did to traditional country. Every new or established artist was expected to follow a similar formula, and radio was ruled by high gloss singers whose appearance and looks far outweighed their vocal skills (except for Chesney, who was never revered for his looks or for his voice, but for his everyman demeanor). Only a handful of singers and songwriters managed to stick to the traditional sounds that brought them to the game. Selling out for a quick hit wasn't an option for hardcore lifers for whom country music was as sacred as life itself. Billy Yates was one of the few singer/songwriters who never allowed his bank balance to dictate the direction of his music. Favorites, Yates' 21-song best-of collection, is not only a lesson in traditionalism and authenticity, but an ear-pleasing journey for listeners who miss the likes of Merle Haggard, George Jones, and Buck Owens. Favorites is a great place for new fans to get acquainted with Yates and a wonderful souvenir for longtime fans. Two songs from Yates' long out of print self-titled debut are re-recorded here. First up is a new version of "Choices," a song made famous by George Jones. Yates enlists the legendary Jones' help on the Grammy nominated number. Hearing Yates and Jones warble the reflective lyrics is a treat of the highest order. "Flowers," a weeper that deals with alcohol addiction and the consequences of bad decisions, is equally as moving. Yates drives a stake right through the listener's heart as he slips into the skin of a recovering alcoholic whose wife dies while he's at the wheel of their car. "Look what it took," Yates bawls, "for me to finally bring you flowers." Country music doesn't get any more real. Save for one new song, the rib-tickling "Better Every Beer" — a fiddle and bass powered cut — Favorites draws from Yates' first five albums. Stand-out tracks include the Tex-Mex seasoned "Me, Marie" the aching "My Infinite Love" (which was also recorded by George Strait) and the funny bone slammer "Alcohol Abuse." The latter is a mile-a-minute cut that finds Yates frowning upon those who shamefully waste good liquor. Stinging steel guitars, sawing fiddles, and jangly mandolin fills never sounded as good as they do on Favorites.


Born: 13 March 1963 in Doniphan, MO

Genre: Country

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Country artist Billy Yates rolled the dice in 2001 when he walked away from Columbia Records Nashville to form his own company, M.O.D. (My Own Damn) Record Label. At the time it was unheard of in Music City for an artist to make such a move. Yates' decision to go independent was brazen considering the fact the singer/songwriter had yet to build much of a fan base while signed to a major label. During a meeting with (then) Columbia Nashville label chief Allen Butler, Yates voiced his desire to make...
Full bio
Favorites, Billy Yates
View in iTunes
  • £7.99
  • Genres: Country, Music
  • Released: 01 December 2006

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