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Chris Cagle

Play It Loud – 2000 (Virgin Nashville)

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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CDs by Chris Cagle

Chris Cagle may have enjoyed the honor of being tutored by Harlan Howard, but it's not exactly "Heartache by the Numbers" country emanating from his debut. From the start of "My Love Goes On and On," what's apparent is a revved up country sound with a good amount of rocking guitar (it's not called "Play It Loud" for nothing) and steady drumming.

Cagle, who co-produced, sings well enough, but there's a sense here that he's always sounding like someone else. Vocally, he recalls Mark Chesnutt at times, though Cagle is never as hard country as Chesnutt can be. But the rocking side of Garth Brooks may be a better reference point (the closing "Rock the Boat" sounds like something Brooks could have covered). He also appears influenced by southern rockers, la the anthemic sounding "Country by the Grace of God."

Less is more could have served Cagle a lot more. Perhaps if he toned it down musically and sounded a bit less smooth vocally ("Laredo" where he sounds like he's just trying way too hard la Brooks at times), he would have done himself a service and picked himself up.