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Chris Wall

Tainted Angel – 1998 (Cold Spring)

Reviewed by Chuck Hamilton

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CDs by Chris Wall

If you think country music has lost its way, this album may convince you otherwise. Chris Wall, a southern Californian turned Austinite, put together a collection that'll make you cry in your beer one moment and laugh out loud the next. He does it with a serviceable baritone, crackerjack musicians (including Austin group Reckless Kelly singing backup), and a gift for turning a memorable phrase.

"I Never Got Over Losing You" tells an all too familiar tale of lost love but manages to avoid country cliches. "Half of What Killed Elvis," on the other hand, is a hoot and a half, with some of the funniest lines on the album. ("Now Elvis blew up two TVs cause he hated Bob Goulet. I swear that one is all I'd need to do in Billy Ray.") The closing "Dylan Montana's Last Ride," is a cowpoke ballad that's in the same league with Ian Tyson's best work.

So, has country music lost its way? Naw, it just can't make its way to the FM dial. All the more reason to turn off the radio and give this'n a listen.