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Rodney Atkins

If You're Going Through Hell – 2006 (Curb)

Reviewed by Robert Loy

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CDs by Rodney Atkins

You know, kids, believe it or not, back in the day, country singers didn't have to sing about how country they were. When they opened their mouths and sang - even if they were singing about being chairman of General Motors and living in the big city - you knew it was a country song. But nowadays when country and pop rock are all but indistinguishable, artists have to waste a lot of valuable time establishing their country credibility.

Take Rodney Atkins for instance. Even though this is his third album, 40 percent of the CD is just about what a good ol' boy he is ("These Are My People,") where he's from ("About the South" "In the Middle") and how much he respects ruralites ("Man on a Tractor").

And ironically he needn't have worried since once he moves away from the id-centric songs, it's fairly obvious he's at least as country as anybody else on the charts these days, both from his voice and his approach to subjects like fathers protecting their daughters ("Cleaning This Gun") and having a hard time getting over a relationship ("Invisibly Shaken.") The hit title track is an irresistible bit of self-help, so darn catchy it's not until the eighth or ninth listen that you realize that - unless you count "down" and "out" - there are no rhymes in the chorus.