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Mac McAnally

Word Of Mouth – 1999 (DreamWorks Nashville)

Reviewed by Jon Weisberger

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CDs by Mac McAnally

Mac Mac McAnally has a long, rich history as a songwriter, session guitarist and producer; he's worked with or written for folks as diverse as Jimmy Buffett, Sawyer Brown, Nancy Griffith, Keith Whitley and Ricky Skaggs. He's also been putting out solo albums - "unintentional collector's items," according to Mac - since the late 1970's. On his latest, McAnally puts that diversity to work on a collection covering many bases.

An album of that sort - a jazzy number ("Pop Top Hop") here, an r&b-flavored song there ("Better Than The Good Old Days"), a country weeper ("Out The Window") and more - is a tough sell to segmented, segregated audiences. McAnally has a pleasant voice, but it's not especially distinctive, so the songs themselves have to carry a lot of weight.

There are some winners here - the mildly funky "Things To Do" is infused with the flavor of Alabama's Muscle Shoals, where the singer lives and records and "Just One Forever," co-written with and originally recorded by Bryan White, has a fine country lope to it - but it's easy to see why McAnally has enjoyed only intermittent success as a solo artist: he doesn't fit easily into any category. If you like well-crafted, polished songs in a variety of styles, though, this fits the bill.