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The Other Side - Billy Ray Cyrus
Billy Ray Cyrus - The Other Side
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CD Review: The Other Side
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Billy Ray Cyrus

Reviewed by Matt Bjorke

While he'll probably be forever known as the "Achy Breaky Heart" singer, Billy Ray Cyrus has proven to be more than a mullet-wearing one hit wonder. Billy Ray's had six Top 10 hits in 10 years and has many more Billboard Top 40 hit singles to his credit. After leaving Mercury Records, Billy Ray recorded two well received albums for Sony (one was released via Madacy Records after a split from Sony). Free from a label, Billy Ray also has played the lead character on the PAX TV hit Doc.

It was on the set of Doc when Billy Ray first thought of doing a gospel record. He had no clue how he was gonna do it he just knew he had to. Shortly thereafter Billy Ray received a call from renowned Nashville producer Billy Joe Walker, Jr. The call was to ask Billy Ray if he wanted to do a gospel record. Realizing that the call was fate, Billy Ray quickly said yes. The first song they recorded together, a blues rock version of "Amazing Grace" secured Billy Ray a contract with Word Entertainment (the same label where Randy Travis has recorded for the last two albums). Months later, Billy Ray Cyrus is releasing his debut Gospel Record, The Other Side.

The album opening track, "Face of God," written by Bob DiPiero, Rivers Rutherford and Tom Shapiro (all 3 with multiple No. 1 hit singles to their credits), tells a loving story of how a man feels when he's surrounded by those that he loves the most. On the chorus, Billy Ray sings some of the words in a falsetto style that he has never done before. It sounds really good and is a song that could be a hit at either country or Christian radio stations.

"Wouldn't You Do This For Me?" is a wonderful story song that tells how the decisions we make should follow the lines of "Do unto others as you'd want done to you." The chorus has a "Chain of Love" style to it in that the song's verses tell stories of different people who are connected. The chorus says: "Wouldn't you do this for me, If I was reachin' out to you, Wouldn't you give me food to eat if I were hungry (-- second chorus--wouldn't you try to save my life If I need you to), wouldn't you do this for me." This song could be a big hit if released to country radio.

"Always Sixteen" is the first single from the album. Written by perennial hit maker Brett James (with Marty Dodson), the song tells an inspirational story of love. It says that the key to being "young" in life is to love like you're "always sixteen."

"I Need You Now" won't be a country radio hit but it sure does tell a great story. It is the story of Jesus written into a four minute song. It is an inspirational story of how one man says that he couldn't know Him back then but that he knows Him now and later sees Him and eventually needs His love. It is a nice song that tells a great story in a unique way. The song was written by Kelly Shiver (formerly of Thrasher Shiver).

"Tip Of My Heart" is a song that Billy Ray originally wanted to record for his 2000 Sony album only to have that label say they didn't "get it." Word Records included it on a sampler of songs they hoped Billy Ray would record. Deciding it was fate, Billy Ray chose to record this song of love. It has the chance to be a smash hit on multiple radio formats (It is the first single at Christian radio). It's about finding love and the faith to hold on tight to it: "I wanna live, I wanna love, I'm afraid my simple faith will never be enough, I want to laugh, I want to be set free, And let you hold all that my soul has deep inside of me, But I don't know where to start, It's on the tip of my heart." The song could be a love song for God or it could be a love song for a wife/husband to share.

"Holding On To A Dream" is a song written by Richard Marx, Lonestar's Richie McDonald and Victoria Shaw. It's an inspirational song that has a nice melody and lyrics that tell us all to hold on to our dreams for they're what guide us into doing what we need to be doing. I wonder why Lonestar hasn't recorded this song, but am happy Billy Ray got to include it on this album for it could be a big hit (much like many songs on this CD) if country radio would only give it a chance.

The Other Side is an album that opened up my eyes. I had long forgotten "Achy Breaky Heart" and accepted Billy Ray Cyrus for what he is, a great singer/songwriter with a bluesy voice that should be a superstar. The Other Side is a labor of love for Billy Ray and it shows in his passionate vocals and wonderful song selection. While The Other Side is a Christian/Gospel album, it really isn't much different from his other CDs in that the album doesn't get preachy. I had no expectations for the album when I first played it and was pleasantly surprised. This album is one of the best releases of 2003 in any genre.

Song List:

  1. Face Of God
  2. Wouldn't You Do This For Me?
  3. Always Sixteen
  4. I Need You Now
  5. Love Has No Walls
  6. Tip Of My Heart
  7. Did I Forget To Pray
  8. Holding On To A Dream
  9. I Love You This Much
  10. The Other Side
  11. Amazing Grace

Album cover used with permission of Word Entertainment.
Audio clips courtesy of Billy Ray Cyrus' Official Website.

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