Keith Anderson

C'mon!

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The first time around, Keith Anderson was pumped up and pimped out, a city cowboy decked out in XXL shirts and singing about Podunk towns, but none of his slick arena anthems burned up the charts -- what clicked were the sentimental ballads like "Every Time I Hear Your Name," songs that helped him get on People's list of 50 Hottest Bachelors. Given all this, why wouldn't Anderson choose to tone down the excesses of his 2005 debut, Three Chord Country and American Rock & Roll, and get a little soft and syrupy on its 2008 follow-up, C'mon!? And so he does, deciding not to follow through on the party-hearty exhortation of his chosen title of C'mon! -- well, apart from a couple of rave-ups, none of which feel quite as ready for a happy hour at Buffalo Wild Wings as any random track from Three Chord Country. Such subdued surroundings have the natural side effect of focusing attention on Anderson's writing, which isn't a bad thing, as he's not an untalented songwriter, boasting the crackerjack George and Garth duet "Beer Run" on his résumé, along with the Big & Rich hit "Lost in This Moment." Certainly, his writing is stronger than his voice, which is strangely sweet and delicate, especially coming from somebody with such well-defined biceps, but on C'mon! he's trying hard to have a hit, so he winds up with songs about "Sunday Morning in America" and Billy Ray Cyrus shuffles about somebody needing a hug. It's easier to take than the oversized arena country of his debut -- and it feels closer to Anderson's comfort zone as a performing songwriter -- but there is still a smack of desperation to this softer stance, as if Anderson is happy to do anything to get on the charts, whether it's signing up for any endorsement deal that comes his way or singing any piece of country corn he can dream up. Maybe if C'mon! succeeds in turning him into a star he'll be secure enough to settle down and simply write and sing, as this album, unlike his debut, does show he has skill as a songwriter -- it's just that he'd rather see himself in the Top Ten than see his songs there.

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