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A Good Collection That Could Have Been Great
on July 18, 2001
Ever wonder what Alan Jackson would sound like on helium? If so, check out Tracy Lawrence. This high-pitched redneck was one of country's most reliable hitmakers from the time he emerged in 1991 with "Sticks and Stones." His Best Of offers a dozen chart smashes as well as two new singles.
Lawrence's best includes a few good ol' boy anthems ("Renegades, Rebels, and Rogues" and "If The Good Die Young") and a couple of tunes that tie his native Texas to honky tonkin' love songs ("Texas Tornado" and "Stars Over Texas"). Lost love is also a recurring theme, with our protagonist a bitter man ("Sticks And Stones"), gracious loser ("I See It Now"), and hopeful reconciliator ("Is That A Tear").
Every hit on this set has its moments - the most noteworthy and substantial being Lawrence's reflective odes ("Time Marches On" and "If The World Had A Front Porch"). The collection's only letdown is that Atlantic didn't find room for his seven other top-5 hits (particularly "Today's Lonely Fool" and "As Any Fool Can See"). All seven are worthy of inclusion.
The two new recordings on the set show the softer side of the Lawrence sound. "While You Sleep," which melodically brings to mind Billy Joel's "New York State Of Mind," relates the story of a guy who forgets to tell his woman that he loves her until she is asleep, while "Her Old Stompin' Ground" delivers a more traditional (for country) ballad about a husband who dutifully waits for his cheating wife to return.
With his well-documented sordid private life overshadowing his music the past couple of years, Lawrence now faces an uphill battle at country radio (some stations banned his music and "While You Sleep" undeservedly bombed on the charts). Whatever the future may hold for Lawrence (his most recent album Lessons Learned had some great singles that also underperformed at radio), this collection serves as a reminder of his status as one of country music's top artists in the'90s.