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Toby Keith

Blue Moon – 1996 (Polydor)

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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CDs by Toby Keith

A hulk with a hat may have been Keith's calling card, but he has improved over time and continues the climb, albeit slowly, here. His Christmas album from the winter showed he may be heading in a more serious musical direction. "The Lonely," a slow, tame song about life in a bar and written in part by Lari White and Chuck Cannon, starts the new CD off promisingly enough. None of the oversinging of which Keith has been guilty of in the past. For once, you get the feeling Keith could have lived the song. Backing vocals by White and Cannon help. He acquits himself on the tender "Closin' Time At Home," while the uptempo closing "Hello" includes humor and energy.

But the problem elsewhere is the material - Keith wrote 9 of the 10 song. There's too much middlin' material, failing to pack lyrical or musical punches. The songs are only about love and lust in sentiments expressed far too simply. The title of one cut, "She's Gonna Get It," says it all. No finesse at all. If Keith is to break out of the hulk-and-hat routine, he needs better, more diverse material or every night will be blue.