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Joe Nichols

Revelation – 2004 (Universal South)

Reviewed by Robert Loy

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CDs by Joe Nichols

2003 was a dream-come-true kind of year for Joe Nichols. The 26-year-old Arkansas native was nominated for three Grammys and the Academy of Country Music named him its top new male vocalist, and he emerged as the new standard-bearer for the neo-traditionalist movement.

All the accolades have apparently not gone to his head. Nichols does so many down-home salt-of-the-earth type tunes on his sophomore release that this could almost be considered a concept album. And why not? When you can do songs as witty as "Don't Ruin It For the Rest of It" (wherein a newlywed's buddies tell him in no uncertain terms that they don't want to hear about his happiness) or as evocative of simple pleasures as "The Shade" or just as true as the first single "If Nobody Believed in You" you probably should play to your strengths. The lone weak track is the title cut, an apocalyptic hymn marred by a cheesy bit of word play at the end. Nichols might also want to consider doing more uptempo stuff in the future, since the album's only fast song "What's a Guy Gotta Do" is such a great toe-tapping sing-along.