Royal Wade Kimes seems like a well-intentioned neo-traditionalist, but ashis debut album demonstrates, sometimes good intentions and a solid sound aren't enough. On the positive side, the album's neo-trad sound is largely absent of glossy frills. While the backing's adequate (if not terribly imaginative), it's the man up front who really drags the album down.
Kimes wrote or co-wrote all of the album's 11 songs, but he's one artist who probably should've left the songwriting to the Nashville pros. Not a single song rises above the level of cliche, and there are way too many jokey novelty songs ("Wal-Mart Special," "Toenail Painted Babe," etc.) loaded with pedestrian puns.
As a vocalist, Kimes is no better. Apparently, he's one of those singers who equate passion with oversinging. His quavery vocals and overdone cry breaks are grating to the ears. On a couple of songs ("A Lie" and "Stay Tuned"), he apes Hank Sr.'s mannerisms without investing them with an ounce of Hank's soul. Fans of neo-traditionalist country can do a lot better than this.