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Mike Dekle

Finely Tuned – 2000 (Parlay)

Reviewed by Clarissa Sansone

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CDs by Mike Dekle

Writing songs about life's ordinary events doesn't have to mean writing ordinary songs - the distinction might be lost on Mike Dekle, as a listen to this album suggests. These made-to-order ditties (in fact, Kenny Rogers and Tracy Byrd have recorded Dekle's songs) suffer from a fear of veering too far from the norm. Their tepid, one-dimensional sentiments and predictable rhymes lack tension, making the songs generic, nondescript, and therefore appealing to a greater market share.

The music is slightly more interesting, incorporating a little more variety into the melodies and some texture through instrumentation.The inclusion of "Road Kill Caf+," a song inspired by t-shirt sentiments that ceased to be funny somewhere in the 1980's, is enough to write the album off entirely, but Dekle redeems himself with tunes like "The Photograph" and "Someone Must Feel Like a Fool Tonight." Both are enjoyable for their avoidance of canned country images in favor of pared-down writing and more ambiguous, which is to say more realistic, themes. In "Joe's Place," Dekle sings that "It's still the old way." Too bad this album isn'tSit doesn't recall "Willie, Haggard and Jones" at all. (1425 Barnett Shoals Rd., Athens, GA 30605)