Traditional Country album releases can be few and far between, so when they arrive, they’re a treat for fans of that genre. Case in point: “Livin’ The Dream,” the third album from Tim Atwood. The songs on this album allow Atwood to take his place at center stage, following decades as an in-demand musician and singer backing other acts, notably at the Grand Ole Opry.
Atwood sets the tone immediately as a fiddle strikes up the opening notes of the first track. Titled “Country Medley,” it’s a skillful mashup of three fan favorites, Johnny Paycheck’s “A-11,” “Playboy” that was a hit for Buck Owens and Alan Jackson, and Ray Price’s “Crazy Arms.” The ideal choice for an opening track, Atwood does the classic country songs full justice.
The rocking beat continues with another Buck Owens-penned song, the uptempo “Under Your Spell Again,” that also charted for Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter in ’71 and Shelby Lynne in ’89. This track surely gets audiences whistling and stomping at Atwood’s live shows.
But this album isn’t all foot-stompers. Slowing down the tempo, Atwood gives us his rendition of “What Have You Got Planned Tonight Diana.” Written by Dave Kirby, the poignant ballad was recorded by both Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash, and (spoiler alert!) tells the heart-touching tale of a man yearning to be reunited with the love of his life as he reveals in the closing lyrics of the song. Atwood drops the intro to the original lyrics, but does include the spoken-word bridge reminiscing about the kids that have grown and gone to see the world. Sentimental? Yes, but certainly a touching song that Atwood treats with respect.
The gentle mood continues with “Mom,” a conversation between God and an unborn child who is looking down on a world that looks like “a little blue ball” and is about to go down and meet the mom who is waiting.
But there’s some fun here, too. “You Pop My Corn (You Melt My Butter)” jumps into a western swing treatment and is a joyful, bouncy duet with Roxanne Atwood. The fun hangs around for Atwood’s take on Hoyt Axton’s rueful “Boney Fingers,” hoping “Things’ll get a little better in the morning.” Among the other standout tracks: Atwood’s take on Creedence Clearwater Revival’s swampy “Travelin’ Band.”
The album closes with the patriotic “I’ll Stand Up and Say So” that was the leadoff single from the album.
Tim Atwood has been quoted as saying, “For thirty-eight years I played piano in the Grand Ole Opry staff band. I got tired of looking at everybody’s backsides, so I decided to change my view. I’ve transitioned from the spotlight’s fringe to center stage. Time for others to look at mybackside for a while.” This album, “Livin’ The Dream,” definitely puts Atwood in the spotlight where he belongs.
Album Review by Preshias Harris