Kickstart Country Standard Time to Nashville
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Sammy Kershaw

Labor of Love – 1997 (Mercury)

Reviewed by Jon Weisberger

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Kickstart Country Standard Time to Nashville

CDs by Sammy Kershaw

This latest effort from the Louisiana singer finds him in a fairly contemplative mood. Labor Of Love is mostly ballads and mid-tempo numbers, with some - but not enough - thoughtful stories to tell.

Kershaw is in good voice and the backings lean heavily on classic stylings delivered by some of Nashville's best, including bluegrasser Stuart Duncan on fiddle and master pianist Hargus "Pig" Robbins. Strong material from Bob McDill ("Honky Tonk America"), Dean Dillon and co-writers ("One Day Left To Live"), and Monty Criswell and Michael White ("Shootin' The Bull (In An Old Cowtown"), anchors the front of the album, and Kershaw himself, both alone and as a co-writer, gets in some good licks. There's a nice Cajun-flavored dance number ("Little Did I Know"), too, but beyond that the material gets pretty thin.

That's a pity, because Kershaw has the makings of a top-flight country singer. He has an expressive voice that's squarely within the tradition, and he's demonstrated an affinity for it. But in a year that's seen some growth in a new wave of traditionalism coming out of Music City, a couple of good songs and strong performances surrounded by more nondescript stuff just isn't enough.