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Tim McGraw

All I Want – 1995 (Curb)

Reviewed by Brian Wahlert

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CDs by Tim McGraw

Until now Tim McGraw has primarily made his living on novelty songs, but he lets his sensitive side dominate on his new CD. Beyond the party hit, "I Like It, I Love It," he takes full advantage of the emotional depth of this incredible collection of songs about the love and, more often lack thereof, of a tough-luck country boy. He perfectly conveys the ambiguity of Gary Burr's "Can't Be Really Gone" as he sings, "She must intend to come back," with a tear in his voice that betrays his exterior confidence. On "I Didn't Ask And She Didn't Say," he meets an old flame by chance at the airport and feels both angry and helpless at her apparent lack of emotion. He imbues the bitter "All I Want Is a Life" with an urgency and edge that he's rarely displayed before.

The album's mixture of piano and strings and big electric guitar solos keeps the music interesting while never removing the focus from McGraw, who, either because of an increase in maturity over the past year or simply because he has more to work with this time, has created a masterpiece of modern country music.