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Jack Ingram

Live at Billy Bob's Texas – 2003 (Smith Music Group)

Reviewed by Kevin Oliver

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CDs by Jack Ingram

Texas is a big state with an even bigger reputation for turning out songwriters and musical performers from Townes Van Zandt to Robert Earl Keen, Lyle Lovett, Steve Earle, and relative newcomers like Pat Green and Jack Ingram.

Though Ingram has been touring and playing now for more than a decade, the big break beyond his home state hasn't really materialized. Ingram is likable enough, but his stylistic debt to Steve Earle is only one factor holding him back. The other, more important one is that he just doesn't write the kind of songs that stick around outside the barrooms he and his band frequent.

Which is why a live disc like this is a good idea - if you can convince a large drunk sweaty bunch of Texans to listen, you must be doing something right. The set list is drawn from Ingram's previous albums for various labels like Rising Tide and Lucky Dog, and a pair of cover tunes, "Dim Lights, Thick Smoke, (And Loud, Loud Music)" and, "Are You Sure Hank Done it This Way?" serve mainly to bookmark the kind of rowdy country rock that Ingram himself aspires to.