After several years in the chartless wilderness, one of country's most distinctive song stylists came back stronger than ever in 1992 with this hit-filled album. With a rich, Southern-cured voice sounding something like a twangy Charlie Rich, Anderson had been one of country's shining lights during the fallow early '80s, then faded just as the music woke up again mid-decade.
He hit right off the bat with this album's second track, "Straight Tequila Night," with an indelible guitar hook and trademark mournful fiddle framing a compassionate narrative of bitterness and loss--a modern classic.
The album meanders a bit unevenly from that point, with highlights including the tough, funky "Steamy Windows" (earlier cut by Tina Turner), the ballad heartbreaker "Cold Day in Hell," and "Look Away," an amusingly jaundiced appraisal of the New South. But the last two tracks restore the quality bar to instant-classic heights. Anderson's sinuously grooved version of Dire Straits' "When It Comes to You" (with Mark Knopfler on guitar) is possibly the best of many Knopfler country covers. The elegiac closing title track was probably the first country hit to address present-day environmental concerns head-on, and its Everglades orientation lends conviction to Florida native Anderson's heartfelt yet understated delivery. --Ken Barnes