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Sonny Burgess (country singer from TX)

When In Texas – 2001 (Music City)

Reviewed by Tom Netherland

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CDs by Sonny Burgess (country singer from TX)

George Strait's past 40. Ditto Alan Jackson. So, to borrow from George Jones, who's gonna fill their shoes? Perhaps Sonny Burgess. Like Strait, Burgess doesn't forgo real country while maintaining a commercial touch. As on his debut, Burgess barrels straight down a fine line that far too many fail to even acknowledge these days.

As with Strait, Burgess' voice won't make Merle look over his shoulder. Yet whether he lassoes ballads ("Alone With You"), Western swing ("When In Texas") or roadhouse rounders ("Smack Dab") Burgess does so with a distinctly fine touch. Amid plenty of steel guitar, fiddle and Burgess' top-flight form even subpar material like "Basic Love" makes the grade - as in Grade "A" country.

How refreshing. Independent country that doesn't pretend to be alternative anything. Just listen to "Turn For the Worse." Burgess digs deep, comes up raring and lets 'er rip, his voice carving deeper than Strait normally allows for himself. Despite a weak "Somewhere Under the Rainbow" and an occasional tepid lyric, this Texan's turn at bat caught the wood. And nearly hit it out of the ballpark. (615-320-7714)