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From the Country Standard Time Archives

Chris Cagle plays it loud, too loud and too safe

Irvine, Cal., Crazy Horse, Feb. 6, 2001

By Dan MacIntosh

IRVINE, CA - Chris Cagle hit the stage with every intention of turning the Crazy Horse into a party house, but this quiet Tuesday night crowd would have nothing of it. Even with his Tim McGraw-like hunk appeal and rocking band, Cagle failed to build any sustainable momentum during a short hour-long set.

Although Cagle is a likable young Texan, he lacks a distinctive singing style and a knack for catchy songs, which left him with little to offer.

More often than not, he wore his artistic influences far too conspicuously. For example, "Country by the Grace of God" had all the markings of a second rate Charlie Daniels slogan/song. If you're really country, we'll figure it out. You don't need to tell us so in song.

Cagle wasn't allowed to show many vocal characteristics, assuming he even had any, since his band - which was powered by dueling lead guitarists and a overly active fiddler - oftentimes simply overwhelmed him.

Nevertheless, this night contained one genuinely touching moment. Cagle was brought to tears when he introduced "Who Needs the Whiskey," about the difficulties in loving an alcoholic partner and was dedicated to his recovering alcoholic mom, who was also in the attendance.

This song revealed a tender side of this party animal, but it was a side too rarely unveiled this evening. Instead, songs like "Play It Loud" - which is exactly what its title implies - ruled the night.

Cagle may portray himself as a rule-breaker who scorns the "Safe Side," but in reality, he's the one who ought to take a few more walks on the wild side.