Long a musician's musician and Nashville favorite, Wariner could well gain commercial success—maybe even popular acclaim—with this exceptionally imaginative, entertaining album. Not that he's been laboring in obscurity all these years. At 45, Wariner has, after all, had 30 singles reach the Top 10. But he has never attained the country-idol status of, say, the two buddies who join him for duets on this collection—Garth Brooks and Clint Black.
With Faith, however, Wariner becomes nearly as accessible as those two vastly popular stars. An accomplished songwriter—he wrote Brooks's "Longneck Bottle" and Black's "Nothin' but the Taillights"—Wariner cowrote all the songs with such collaborators as Bill Anderson, Rick Carnes and Rodney Crowell. The highlight, "I Just Do," is a western-swing-tinged tune with lively backup by a crack studio band that includes pianist Matt Rollings and fiddler Aubrey Haynie. Anderson-Wariner's "Make It Look Easy" cleverly tells how hard it is to break up gracefully. And "Bloodlines," a guitar duet between Wariner and his 16-year-old son Ryan, evokes the great collaborations between Nashville studio wizard Chet Atkins and British rocker Mark Knopfler. Wariner may be too old to become the next new sensation, but he isn't too old to be discovered by new throngs of fans.
Bottom Line: Some new sides of an old familiar face