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Joe Diffie

Tougher Than Nails – 2004 (Broken Bow)

Reviewed by Jon Weisberger

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Kickstart Country Standard Time to Nashville

CDs by Joe Diffie

Joe Diffie's 11-year career on Sony and its Epic and Monument imprints came to an end a couple of years ago, but unlike the fading radio stars of an earlier generation he didn't slink off to Branson and stop recording. Instead, he signed with indie Nashville label Broken Bow (Craig Morgan, Sherrie Austin), and his label debut shows that he's still got the talent that took him to stardom in the first place.

Co-produced by Diffie and drummer Lonnie Wilson - the latter is joined by top producer Buddy Cannon (Reba McEntire, Kenny Chesney) on 3 cuts - the new album stays in pretty much the same musical groove as 2001's "In Another World." Indeed, the major difference is that the songs are, for the most part, better - Diffie, who started out as a staff writer, wrote or co-wrote almost half its selections - and there's a new thread of religious belief (or, at least, reference) that informs songs like the title track and "Something I Do For Me," co-written with Harley Allen. He may not be on a major label, but his new CD shows that Joe Diffie's still a major artist.