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Jeff Carson

Real Life – 2001 (Curb)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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CDs by Jeff Carson

When you realize this album's opener and title cut is all about watching our loved ones die, which sheds light on how such emotional moments put the realities of life into blunt perspective, you're suddenly cognizant about why Jeff Carson is such a striking talent.

With a voice that is Garth-like in the higher notes, and Mark Chestnutt-esque on the lower ones, Carson has gathered together a fine batch of songs to work it out on. He had the good sense to co-write a few of these songs with Jim Weatherly (best known for "Midnight Train To Georgia"), as well as covering a Harlan Howard tune ("My One And Only Love"). Much is on the melancholy side, but "Shine On" retains a positive pop, and "Divine Intervention" humorously alludes to various religious practices to make its point about the surprising joy of new love.

Best of all, the steel guitar highlighting "My One And Only" and "What's Not To Love," and the sprightly fiddle of "Divine Intervention" give the album a few much-appreciated elements of real country, which raises "Real Life" a few notches above much of today's pop country offerings.