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James Otto

Shake What God Gave Ya – 2010 (Warner)

Reviewed by Larry Stephens

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CDs by James Otto

The press release for James Otto's new album ends with a telling quote from Otto: "As much as there's all these different fractures of country music these days..." Otto has proven himself popular with the current crop of country music fans, and this CD should prove to be a popular addition. Otto is trying to position himself as the new king of country soul, whatever that may be. The "country soul" sound isn't new - Conway Twitty, Ronnie Milsap (who sings with Otto on Good Thing's Gone Bad), and Delbert McClinton, just to name three, have all done songs that could be characterized as soul.

So how well does Otto do here? Good Thing's Gone Bad is definitely soulful, but that's not a surprise with Milsap added. Sun Comes 'Round Again qualifies, but it also takes you back to the '70's rock scene. Lover Man is more upbeat, but still in the soulful category while She Comes To Me could easily have been done by The Eagles.

The title track takes you into the arms of southern rock and while Otto is no ZZ Top, he does a good job. He takes a different turn with Soldiers & Jesus,undoubtedly the most touching song of this collection:

"Well granddaddy came home in a B-52 In a pine box covered in red, white, and blue He was one of the brave and the proud and the few"

This is very good CD for the current generation of country fans.