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By CRYSTAL CAVINESS, United Press International  |  Aug. 22, 2002 at 3:58 PM
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NASHVILLE, Aug. 22 (UPI) -- Diamond Rio always has made recording a hit song look easy.

The same appears to be true with their eighth album, "Completely," which hit the streets Aug. 20. The first single from the new project, "Beautiful Mess," has scampered up the charts and currently rests just inside the Top 10 marker at No. 9 on the Billboard country singles chart.

"We believe it's all in the song," Dana Williams said recently in an interview when trying to explain their hit history.

Williams is the bass player and baritone harmony singer for the six-member country band. He is joined by lead singer Marty Roe, electric guitarist Jimmy Olander, drummer Brian Prout, keyboardist Dan Truman and mandolin player and tenor vocalist Gene Johnson.

Indeed, Diamond Rio has recorded hit after hit during its 12-year career, with 15 Top 5 singles, seven of those going to No. 1. From the first hit in 1991, "Meet In The Middle," the band has enjoyed success with songs such as "Norma Jean Riley," "In A Week Or Two," "Love A Little Stronger," "How Your Love Makes Me Feel," and "One More Day."

"One More Day," the title track from the band's 2001 release, proved to be the biggest song to date for the band. Though the song peaked on the charts during the summer of 2001, the tune received a boost following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

"When we first heard 'One More Day' everyone of us said 'Oh my gosh, we have to record that' (song)," Williams said. "You never dream that a song will take on a life like it did, with folks using it like they have with tragic situations, the ultimate being 9/11. It ended up being a type of healing (song) ... It's a song that will be around forever. (And) it just makes us so happy that our name can be attached to that forever."

"One More Day" was nominated for best country song for a Grammy, an Academy of Country Music Award and Country Music Association Award. A book of the same name has been published, which includes the CD single, that features inspirational stories and quotes.

Perhaps the most creative recognition associated with the song came from Diamond Rio's fan club. At their 2002 fan club party, members surprised the band by announcing that an Automated External Defibrillator, which can be used to restart a stopped heart, had been placed in their honor at the Nashville International Airport. The commemorative plaque at the airport reads: "Donated in honor of Diamond Rio so that others may have 'One More Day.'"

While no other song in the band's history may have the impact of "One More Day," the members have collected 13 stellar tunes for their new project.

Aside from the first single, the CD features an assortment of styles and tempos. There's the pop-tinged title track written by pop songwriting superstar Diane Warren, a slinky little jazz number titled "Something Cool," a country shuffle, "If You'd Like Some Lovin'," a cool instrumental featuring a 44-piece orchestra called "Rural Philharmonic," a powerful ballad, "I Believe," and a wildly eccentric rock meets bluegrass tune, "The Box."

The end result is an eclectic mix of songs that feature Diamond Rio at their best.

"We didn't even realize it was happening until we stepped back and said 'Wow, look at all that,'" Williams said about the mix of songs on the album.

Despite the mix of tempos and styles, there is only one requisite for the band to choose a song.

"When we're listening for songs, we beat them up as hard as we know how. We just keep pounding and keep searching for what we think are the greatest songs we can find," Williams said. "We have an advantage: there are six of us with opinions. If you can get six guys to go 'I love that,' then you have an advantage. The more opinions you can have in that situation and if they all end up 'great,' then you might be onto something. We want to record stuff that all of us love."

With the new album out, the band is hitting the road to promote the new project. In addition to numerous U.S. dates, Diamond Rio joins Kenny Rogers and Rebecca Lynn Howard for 15 shows in September throughout Canada.

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