The romance and adventure of Western music is alive and well. Red Steagall deals with the cowboy lifestyle in an interesting set ofsongs. As the album title implies, Steagall artfully uses parable to create songs that mix his love of the cowboy lore with his fundamentalist Christian beliefs. Surprisingly, the songs are delightfully bereft of the smug self-righteousness that usually ruins songs like these. The downfall, however, are "spoken word" tracks that account for almost half the cuts. Steagall narrates little stories or poems without the lubrication of even a gentle instrumental background. In contrast to songs, these spoken cuts do come off as preachy and sanctimonious with his voice sounding as phony as a Saturday morning cartoon character. Steagall's songs, production and performance are so good that one really feels cheated by the poetry readings. Be forewarned: Steagall's album especially pushes the "wholesome meter" dangerously into the red.