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The Ranch

The Ranch – 1997 (Capitol)

Reviewed by Dan Kuchar

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CDs by The Ranch

The Ranch claims both guitarist Mark Knopfler and Don Williams as musical influences. The first is a given, but the second is quite a stretch.

The Ranch's debut is a potpourri of different styles and influences. The main dwellings on the sonic landscape are Aussie Keith Urban's virtuoso guitar playing and generic pop lead vocals, Urban and co-writer Vernon Rust's versatile but unfocused songwriting and the solid rhythmic drive of drummer Peter Clarke and bassist Jerry Flowers. While songs like "Just Some Love" and "My Last Name" are clearly country, "Homespun Love" and "Tangled Up In Love" are just pop/rock songs gone acoustic. Another factor that makes The Ranch hard to swallow as country is that the central component of their sound is Urban's guitar playing not singing. The lyrical portions of the songs are an afterthought to Urban's fancy guitar work.

One can't help feeling that The Ranch has put the cart before the horse.