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Toby Keith

How Do You Like Me Now – 1999 (DreamWorks Nashville)

Reviewed by Larry Stephens

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CDs by Toby Keith

Toby Keith's Dreamworks Nashville debut continues a solid body of work with the sound you have come to expect. Perhaps that's part of the problem. Strengths and weaknesses depend on perspectives. The music behind many of the songs is over-produced, but that's typical HNC. At least two cuts are strong reminders of past Keith hits.

His best moments, though, are when he strays from formula into songs like "New Orleans," a story of mystery and love. The song contains a much simpler arrangement with each instrument contributing its part without overwhelming the sound. A great harmonica part. adds to the song. The CD has diversity. "You Shouldn't Kiss Me Like This" has a great hook: "You shouldn't kiss me like this if you don't mean it like that." The edgy "Die With Your Boots On" tells of a gambler daddy who has a tattoo that "...was hard to read, I don't know what it said, somethin' about my mother." There's a lot of promise, but, when the last echoes die, not much sticks.

Keith's fans will like this new CD, though it may not gain him many new ones. Next time around, maybe he'll simplify his sound and take a few more chances.