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Monte Warden

A Stranger To Me Now – 1999 (Asylum)

Reviewed by Dan Williams

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CDs by Monte Warden

Monte Warden fit comfortably into the alt.-country arena long before it was fashionable: He led The Wagoneers, an Austin band that deftly left some footprints along the eternal Buddy Holly/Waylon Jennings axis. This delayed major label debut falls short of that promise. It seems personally transitional (his recent divorce is prominently mentioned in the press kit).

He's very good when working his loss: the title track nails a mood and hits a groove, recalling very much Chris Isaak by way of Orbison. There are loping, rock-solid Bo Diddley beats in the call-and-response "It's Only Love," and a real, pleading ache in "I Can't Tell My Heart What To Do."

Much of the rest, however, seems machine-tooled; easy TNN fare that lacks the immediacy of the recent Mike Ireland and Vince Gill records that have mined very similar turf. A disappointing album; but perhaps the product of a man who has weathered some storms and is looking forward to the future.