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Randy Houser

How Country Feels – 2013 (Stoney Creek)

Reviewed by Sam Gazdziak

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CDs by Randy Houser

Despite a good track record of releasing quality music, Randy Houser hasn't become a consistent chart-topper yet. His new album, "How Country Feels," has already brought him one hit song with the title track, so perhaps a change of scenery (Houser is now on Stoney Creek) was what his career needed.

Houser's last album, "They Call Me Cadillac," was a bluesy, varied album that unfortunately yielded no hits. This time around, he's gone for a much simpler approach, focusing heavily on having good times in the sunshine and enjoying the moment (see the title track, as well as Absolutely Nothing and Runnin' Out of Moonlight). None of the songs are bad, and they are better than the usual "let's dance on my tailgate in the country" fare, but they're not particularly noteworthy, either. Those songs tend to be the rowdiest, loudest songs as well, to the point that they become almost too bombastic.

Houser is a very skilled songwriter, and he has several songs about music that are top notch. The Singer and The Power of a Song take a different approach to the subject. The latter may be overly sentimental, but it's also easy to relate - everybody who's a die-hard music fan has at least one or two songs in their past that have shaped their lives. The Singer, on the other hand, is a lovely ballad detailing the heartache of loving someone who's dedicated his life to something else.

While not every country artist could straddle that middle ground between art and commerce, Houser has chosen well with the songs he co-wrote or found by other writers. "How Country Feels" has its share of breezy, lightweight songs meant for radio airplay that hit on all the themes that are popular at the moment, but there's plenty of meat as well.