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Kevin Fowler

Chippin' Away – 2011 (Average Joe's)

Reviewed by Greg Yost

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CDs by Kevin Fowler

Kevin Fowler is a bit of a country music conundrum. Although the Texas-based singer enjoys a large and loyal regional following and has an excellent track record of solid studio albums and high-energy performances, he hasn't been able to make the leap to mainstream country music stardom.

One of Fowler's biggest challenges is balancing the music to both please his hardcore Texas following while also delivering songs that make country music radio decision makers take notice. \With his latest album, his first for Average Joe's Entertainment, Fowler makes a renewed push for larger recognition with a nice selection of radio-friendly tunes mixed in with the kind of rough and tumble Texas honky tonk music that made him one of the biggest stars in the Lone Star State.

The lead track, That Girl, is also one of the catchiest songs. The tune's nostalgic summer love imagery combined with a memorable Kenny Chesney-style sing-along chorus easily makes it the strongest candidate for mainstream radio play. Both the mid-tempo Here's To Me And You and the rockin' recession anthem Beer Money are 2 additional breakout hit contenders from this 11-song set.

Fowler sticks closer to his outlaw country roots on tracks like the steel guitar-driven party-starter Hell Yeah, I Like Beer, the twangy Girl In A Truck and the live recording of the rousing redneck ballad Knocked Up that closes the album.

With a charismatic performer, more than a handful of good songs and some nice production work from David Lee Murphy and Ken Tondre, "Chippin' Away" has all of the elements needed to make a truly memorable album. Unfortunately in catering to two distinctly different audiences, Fowler created an uneven sum that is not greater than its separate parts. If you approach this album as a collection of singles rather than a singular artistic statement, you will find it an enjoyable listen.