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"Fall" Stands As a Fine Return to Form for Walker
on April 24, 2007
Prime Cuts: I'd Love to Your Last, It Ain't Pretty (But It's Beautiful), Working Man
One man's loss is another man's gain. While Alan Jackson has ditched his longtime helmsman Keith Stegall for Alison Krauss to produce his latest dirge-like disappointment of a record " Like Red Like a Rose," Stegall's deft handiwork of crafting the fortuitous Jackson's chart-topping sounds is all here on Clay Walker's "Fall." After 6 albums with the now dysfunctional Giant Records and 1 with RCA Nashville and with each record accelerating towards mediocrity, "Fall" is a career-detour record that galvanizes with the same neo-traditional ear-grabbing enthusiasm that has earmarked Walker's earlier hits such as "What's It to You" and "Live Until I Die." Further, unlike Walker's precious repertoire where he's contend to just interpret other people's songs, this time round this lanky Texan has a hand in co-writing 5 tracks and wrote one by himself, adding a more personal depth to this album.
Call him hopelessly romantic, "Working Man," an unadorned Alan-Jackson-esquire honky tonk romp about a man working hard not for the mighty dollar but his lady's love is definitely ear-candy for Walker's legion of female fans. Continuing to show off his gentleman-like seriousness to love, which has always worked positively for Walker, "I'd Love to Your Last" is a big love ballad that simmers with a soulful warmth without becoming sappy. Also, Walker's masculine self-assuring tenor brings an ethos to the new single "Fall" that is affirming especially when he croons: "Go on and fall apart/Fall into these arms of mine/I'll catch you everytime you fall/Go on and lose it all/every doubt every fear/Every worry every tear/I'm right here/Baby fall your head on my shoulder/Let it fade away." Moving away from romance, the moving inspirational ballad "It Ain't Pretty (But It's Beautiful)" offers perspicuity towards things that are of value and worth, some of which are often overlooked by humans in their busyness and selfishness.
However, levity does have some room in this emotionally hefty album: `Fore She Was Mama," besides having a clumsy title, is a trite (and meaningless) story about Walker discovering his mother's hippie days from a box of old photos. Other than some sporadic interesting lines like "In a string bikini, in Tijuana/Won't admit she smoked marijuana/But I saw Mama, `fore she was Mama," the song is an attempt in silliness. Thus, it comes as no surprise to find this lead single stalling at number 21 on the Billboard country singles chart. Much better is the Kenny Chesney-influenced "Mexico" and the re-cut of "Before the Next Teardrop Falls." As for the latter, it is a duet with Freddy Fender. "Teardrops" also finds Walker trading lines with Fender in Spanish which itself is a delight to hear.
"Fall" stands as one of Walker better efforts especially in the light of his last few CDs. The presence of Stegall and Walker's well chosen material are prime ingredients to the recipe of this disc's success. For those who like their country lean on its backings, but hefty in terms of its lyrical density on romance, altruism and commitment, you can't go wrong falling for this disc.