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Ben Atkins

Mabelle – 2003 (HighTone)

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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CDs by Ben Atkins

Ben Atkins is yet another of the Texas artists with a lot of meat on the hoof. Vocally, Atkins most recalls Steve Earle though a bit less worn. Earle could easily just about any of the songs here. Atkins has enough twang and vigor in his somewhat nasally voice throughout the dozen songs.

But he's also not afraid to get a bit of help. Backing vocals from Carol Young add a nice touch on "I Don't Want to Hide" and the revved-up "You Pulled Me Down." Musically, he mixes it up with fiddle and mandolin ("I Don't Want to Ride") and goes for a much harder edge on a cover of Kasey Chambers' "Last Hard Bible" and the fast-paced "You Pulled Me Down" with lots of pedal steel from Lloyd Maines and sure-handed drumming from Rick Richards.

There's certainly enough musical diversity here without being guilty of being a dilettante, and Atkins benefits from being able to pen a lot of solid songs.The references are readily available on Atkins debut, but he also puts his own stamp on the music for a top quality musical meal.