You Don´t Know Me
    
REVIEW By Willard Manus

I don't often write about country music unless I come across an exceptional CD in the field, which is the case with Gary Gene Bolton's YOU DON'T KNOW ME (Lightning Creek Records). Bolton, known primarily for his warm, sweet singing style, reveals a hidden talent as songwriter on this new release.

"After recording other people's material for years, I thought I'd give writing a shot," he confided in an interview. The first track on the CD--With a Little Bit of Love--is the first song he ever wrote. "I don't remember how the idea got stuck in my head but I didn't have the confidence to complete it. Then once I did, I could just tell it sounded good and I knew I could do this."

Bolton went on to write more songs, eleven of which are collected on YOU DON'T KNOW ME. In just about every case, his lyrics are strong and simple, but honest, heartfelt and moving. The man is a gifted ballad writer, although his one comic number, Me and My Baby, a bawdy ditty about a gal he shacked up with over a memorable weekend, is a real winner too. No doubt you'll be hearing it on the airwaves as it's been released as a radio single.

Bolton's songs deal with themes that are both personal and universal. In Does A Mother Cry, for example, he writes about his birth mother who, because she was unwed, gave him up for adoption and fled in shame to another city. When he finally tracked her down, twenty-five years later, he discovered that she had died only recently, just before he could reconnect with her.

Bolton not only writes good songs but tells good stories, whether he's praising the woman he's married to or recalling the reasons for an earlier divorce. He sings melodiously on the CD, backed up by some first-class musicians. Production values are just as high, thanks to co-producers Richard Egizi and Randy Farrar.

The one non-original tune is You Don't Know Me, which was, of course, first recorded by Eddy Arnold. Bolton gives the master a run for his money. (Visit garygene.com)