Country band Heartland will release their new album, I Loved Her First, on Oct. 10 on Lofton Creek Records. The title track is currently No. 9 on Billboard's country airplay chart.
Despite the touching title ballad, most of Heartland's debut is as generically bland as the Alabama group's name, and a little too stylistically eclectic to establish much of an identity. "Freebird in a Firebird" celebrates the glory days of Lynyrd Skynyrd, the sexual fantasy of "Let's Get Dirty" channels both the Rolling Stones and the Who, and the obligatory countrier-than-thou anthem, "Too Country," comes from the Hank Williams Jr. school. Yet treacle such as "You" would be rejected by '70s soft-rockers Bread as too wimpy, and "Play Hurt" and "Built to Last" are simply catalogs of clichés. Recorded with veteran producer-songwriter Walt Aldridge (who shares credit on much of the material, none of it written by the band) at Fame in Muscle Shoals, the band evokes that studio's fabled soul grooves on "No Getting Over Me" and "Judge a Man by the Woman," highlights that show promise. --Don McLeese