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Steve Wariner

Two Teardrops – 1999 (Capitol Nashville)

Reviewed by Jon Weisberger

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CDs by Steve Wariner

If hard core honky-tonk is your thing, you won't find it on Steve Wariner's latest with 15 songs of pop-country stylings. The closest thing to a straight country song here is "Tattoos Of Life," a simple, life-is-tough acoustic ballad with a haunting dobro line, or perhaps the brief closing fingerpicked guitar instrumental, "The Harry Shuffle."

Rather, most of the album is devoted to slow and mid-tempo songs whose arrangements wrap gently around Wariner's smooth, melodic singing. Faintly Caribbean rhythms underpin several numbers, including "You Be My Everything and "Cry No More," while the album's opener ("Hands Of Time") and "So Much" rock a little bit harder - but never enough to make real waves.

That's both the weakness and saving grace. There's not much here that grabs you and makes you pay attention, but on the other hand, not everything that's worthwhile presents itself so insistently. It would have been nice to have a solid up-tempo number or two like the title track of his last album, "Burnin' The Roadhouse Down," but Wariner's found a groove that's artistically suitable, if less than thrilling, and there are plenty of folks who like his laid-back, polished ballads.