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Kix Brooks

New to This Town – 2012 (Arista)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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CDs by Kix Brooks

With no disrespect to Kix Brooks, but back when he was half of the super successful Brooks & Dunn, this diminutive one sometimes seemed to be Andrew Ridgeley to George Michaels; he was Oates to Hall. Hopefully, though, the wonderful new "New to This Town" will put that stereotype to rest. Brooks was also the humorous, gregarious side of Brooks & Dunn, which starkly contrasted Ronnie's many times uptight, shy stage presence.

There's little that's overly serious on this mostly upbeat and fun album. Perhaps best of all is Complete 360, which tells the story of a guy that's "back on the town, back on the whiskey," after attempting to clean up his act for a woman. Brooks sings it perfectly, kind of like the Dean Martin of country music with a casual, unapologetically hedonistic attitude.

Most of these songs kick off with memorable guitar hooks. Case in point is Tattoo, which sounds a little like AC/DC-gone-Nashville. It rocks, but just not too hard. Brooks shuts down the riff-o-matic guitars temporarily for She Knew I Was A Cowboy, which quietly expresses country pride, without ever chest-bumping the listener.

Nothing here will make you forget all those Brooks & Dunn anthems. In fact, "New to This Town" is relatively anthem-free. However, Kix Brooks makes for an easygoing, laidback host, who sure knows how to have a good time.