November 01, 1999 12:00 PM

Randy Travis (DreamWorks)

At the age of 40, Travis is what passes for an éminence grise in Nashville’s middle-aged generation. This imposes an expectation of exceptional consistency on him—an expectation he more than meets, album after album. On his latest he presents a rich mix of lively tracks like “The Family Bible and the Farmer’s Almanac” and “A Little Bitty Crack in Her Heart,” along with the kind of languorous ballad Travis owns, “Where Can I Surrender?”

Rank having its privileges, Travis has access to terrific songs by such esteemed writers as Melba Montgomery (“A Heartache in the Works”), and he can enlist the services of stellar sidemen (guitarist Brent Mason; keyboardist Matt Rollings). They provide a rich showcase for his voice. And as always, he delivers.

Bottom Line: Nashville’s young turks should sound this good

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