With his cute strawberry-blond moustache and broad-brimmed cowboy hat, Tracy Lawrence comes across at first as just one more of Nashville's young matinee idols. He's a lot better than most of them, though, and I See It Now
proves he's that rare honky-tonk singer who can make you laugh at love's foolishness on one song and cry at love's agony on the next. Lawrence's '93 album, Alibis
, was the best collection of comic country songs since Roger Miller's heyday; I See It Now
isn't quite as satisfying, but it does confirm Lawrence can be quite effective as a balladeer. There's no better evidence of Lawrence's honky-tonk credentials than his ability to hold his own with John Anderson on the delightfully exaggerated duet, "Hillbilly with a Heartache." The album's title tune is an old-fashioned honky-tonk ballad about a man who realizes his ex loves her new man more than she ever loved him; Lawrence spices the lyrics with a paradoxical mixture of envy and congratulations. Paul Nelson and Kenny Beard, who wrote some of the best songs on Alibis
, wrote that one, another breakup gem called "As Any Fool Can See," and "If the World Had a Front Porch," a bit of down-home philosophy redeemed by its sparkling details. Unfortunately, the quality of the songwriting falls off pretty sharply after the above four songs. It's too bad, for Lawrence is one of the most interesting young artists in Nashville today, and he has the chance to become the premier comic country singer of his generation. --Geoffrey Himes
Tracy Lawrence I See It Now
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