Rockin' You Tonight by Blaine Larsen
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Blaine Larsen's 2005 debut revealed a talented 19-year-old whose passionate delivery and traditionalist bent belied his youth. At 20, those assets remain intact. After a bracing start with the witty Tejano-flavored "I Don't Know What She Said," he delivers "Let Alone You" in homage to his longtime hero George Strait (who had first dibs on recording the song). The acerbic humor and furious, careening arrangement of "No Woman" is balanced by the thoughtful affirmation of marital fidelity in "I'm in Love with a Married Woman." In Larsen's hands, Mac Davis's 1972 pop hit "Baby Don't Get Hooked on Me" seems fresh and new. His duet with Gretchen Wilson on "Lips of a Bottle" transcends Music Row's usual "vocal event" gimmickry to recapture the feel of the best George Jones/Tammy Wynette duets. As on the first album, Larsen again reflects maturity beyond his years with the somber social commentary of "Someone Is Me" and the powerfully inspirational "At the Gate." While sophomore efforts are often letdowns, Larsen projects here the same heart, humor, and excellence--perhaps a bit more. --Rich Kienzle