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Clint Black

Nothin' But the Tailights – 1997 (RCA)

Reviewed by Jon Johnson

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CDs by Clint Black

There are no big surprises from Clint Black this time around, but did you really expect any? Having said that, the results are solid enough, as is always the case with Black. As usual, the listener gets a few '90's-style honky-tonk rockers ("Loosen Up My Strings" and the title track), a couple of soppy ballads that, nonetheless, an artist of Black's stature needs on every album to show that he has some depth ("Something That We Do" and "You Don't Need Me Now"), and one or two "vocal events" (whatever happened to the word "duet?"); in this case "Still Holding On" with Martina McBride and "Our Kind of Love" with Alison Krauss and Union Station.

Of the two, the duet with McBride is likely to be the bigger hit.Which is a real shame, since "Our Kind of Love" is a keeper and makes one wish that Black would try cutting an entire album of this kind of acoustic material sometime. Along similar lines is "Ode to Chet," which features terrific guitar work from (take a deep breath, now...) Black, Chet Atkins, Steve Wariner, jazz guitarist Larry Carlton, and Dire Straits leader Mark Knopfler, as well as a brief - and touching - conversation between Atkins and Black at the end of the number. As they say, there's nothing new under the sun. But sometimes there doesn't have to be.