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Billy Ray Cyrus

Southern Rain – 2000 (Monument/Sony)

Reviewed by Tom Netherland

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CDs by Billy Ray Cyrus

Achy breaky Billy Ray Cyrus can't cut it. Whether as a poor Elvis, second-rate bluegrasser or as a Chippendale country crooner, Cyrus falls just short of mediocre. Not bad, just not particularly good.

First, there's Cyrus' voice. Whether boasting ballads ("You Won't Be Lonely Now") or simplistic Southern odes with the title track of his latest album, Cyrus reminds us just how boring country music can be. Unremarkable chops makes suey of Cyrus.

Mixtures of steel guitars and chord-crunching axe-grinding guitars further muddies already murky waters. In Cyrus' stilted world, women are never wrong ("All I'm Thinking About is You"), men are left to beg ("Love You Back") and babble (Cyrus sings "I've been goo-goo ga-ga since the day we met" on "Crazy 'Bout You Baby") for that ever elusive woman who can do no wrong.

Curdle 'n' cringe country ("Burn Down the Trailer Park") that's really not country marks the bulk of Billy Ray's romp in the deep muddy. Despite a well-placed touch of humor with a raucous "Hey Elvis," wear boots when spinning Cyrus' latest. Big ones.