Ray Price - Night Life (1963), 3/10

The loosely conceptualized Night Life is, in the majority, a bore. It consists of homogenous country ballads with very few moments of relief in the form of vocal swells from Price and sparsely interesting narratives. Ray Price saw varying levels of success but was already known for a handful of singles. This foray into the Nashville sound, comprising of straightforward honky tonk tunes with a thematic bend, begins with a self-aware introduction before retreating into a set of very safe performances with little diversion. The album flows well, almost too well considering its range of songwriters and stories. The album is a missed opportunity to venture into the unknown within the limitations of country music, rather adhering to its existing aesthetic so intensely that it becomes dreary in the wrong sense. The legendary Willie Nelson makes contributions on rhythm and as a songwriter. The loose concept of the album is nothing worth mentioning considering its general themes of heartbreak that have been battered into the ground far before the sixties, especially in country music, even honky tonk. A preliminary listen is pleasant enough, but subsequent plays leave a lingering feeling of emptiness and again, the wrong mode of melancholy. Hopelessness is not felt in Price’s stories but rather through his presentation. The songs themselves range from acceptable to abysmal but never break the barrier of mediocrity in country music. There are far better instances of the Nashville sound before and since, making Night Life inconsequential and forgettable.