September 30, 2002 12:00 PM

Diamond Rio (Arista Nashville)

Diamond Rio’s songs may tend toward the pedestrian, and except for first-class mandolin player Gene Johnson, its members would make few all-star bands. Yet this group has been a consistent country force for 10 years, thanks to its smooth, subtle harmonies and relaxed, unassuming sound. The sextet’s seventh studio album is a case in point. While showcasing the band’s musical versatility and lead singer Marty Roe’s high-pitched twang, which recalls Buck Owens, the disc avoids the glib wordplay and flag-waving that have become de rigueur in Nashville—although “Rural Philharmonic” is one of those bluegrass jams that are requisite on country albums these days. It’s on the more restrained, conversational “Make Sure You’ve Got It All” and the easy-rocking, good-time title tune that Diamond Rio really sparkles.

Bottom Line: Country overachievers do it again

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