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Tracy Byrd

I'm From the Country – 1998 (MCA)

Reviewed by Jon Weisberger

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CDs by Tracy Byrd

Though Tracy Byrd's sound is definitely modern, its roots in classic honky tonk and ballad styles show through pretty clearly. His CDs contain lots of pedal steel and fiddle, and Byrd's rich baritone nicely shows off its debt to fellow Texans like George Strait and older artists like Johnny Paycheck.

Still, the sound is anything but retro; the drums may be pulled back a notch from earlier releases, but they're still plenty "big," and the lead guitar is prominent in a thoroughly Nineties way. It's a good combination that can satisfy open-minded fans of the classics and today's country audiences.

Why, then, is this album not a knockout" The material. There are a couple of strong cuts - the heartbreak ballad "I Wanna Feel That Way Again" and the mid-tempo honkytonker "Walkin' The Line" stand out most clearly - but too many cuts are forgettable throwaways that obscure, rather than highlight, Byrd's strengths as a singer capable of synthesizing the old and new into an exciting blend. Those looking to Byrd for more than the status quo will have to watch for his next one; this one's in a holding pattern.