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Joe Diffie

A Night To Remember – 1999 (Epic)

Reviewed by Tom Netherland

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CDs by Joe Diffie

Joe Diffie's recent albums were beginning to sound like a Jeff Foxworthy joke set to music. Fortunately, he's wizened up with the release of his eighth album, "A Night To Remember."

A skilled songwriter with a vaulting voice, Diffie's album sales have never lived up to his talent. Nearly a decade after his debut and eight albums under his belt, only two hit Billboard's Country Album chart Top Ten.

He can do better. Evidenced by the brimmed-in-blue title tune, Diffie's hardcore country chops and way with a lyric make him one of the genre's finest belters. Though the song details lost love, as the father of a Downs Syndrome child, Diffie sings the line "It ain't easy being strong" with the verve of someone who knows well of what he sings. The Oklahoman's voluminous voice, coupled with Grade-A material such as toe-tapper "You Can't Go Home" and "The Quittin' Kind," makes for a convincing winner. Hardcore country "Don't Our Love Look Natural" fits Diffie as naturally as anything he's ever done. So well, in fact, that one could make solid a case for him being George Jones' honky-tonk heir.

Candlight country ("I'm The Only Thing I'll Hold Against You") sways alongside bellowing ballads ("Better Off Gone") and boot-kickin' blasts ("It's Always Somethin'") with nary a novelty tune in the bunch.

Much to Diffie's benefit.

Diffie strayed in recent years from the basic tenets that built the careers of his heroes. No more. Thank goodness.