Lonestar

Let's Be Us Again

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Toward the end of the '90s, Lonestar decided to move firmly into the mainstream of contemporary country, leaving behind any hardcore country influences they may have had in favor of sweet anthemic ballads and poppy country-rockers. In essence, they picked up where Alabama left off, so it's little surprise that Alabama's Randy Owen sings on "From There to Here" on the group's fifth album, Let's Be Us Again -- he's passing the torch to this likeable bunch from Tennessee. Like Alabama, Lonestar are catchy and bright, not as concerned with keeping country as they are with hooks and tunes that keep them on the radio, and after they moved toward contemporary country with 1999's Lonely Grill, they have stayed near the top of the country charts. Given that success, perhaps it's inevitable that the group doesn't try much new on Let's Be Us Again, but they're savvy enough to pick up on some early-2000s trends, whether it's dedicating "Somebody's Someone" to "the fallen heroes" or cribbing from Kenny Chesney's island obsession on "T.G.I.F." Lonestar are at their best when they keep the tempo and the mood upbeat, and fortunately most of the album is on the faster side, which makes it more entertaining than some of their previous albums. It's also a consistent album, with only a handful of duds -- such as the well-intentioned "Let Them Be Little," which sounds disarmingly close to "Let Them Belittle," as if it's an anthem for condescension -- which also makes it one of their strongest records. If Lonestar don't quite have the engaging personality to truly make them an heir to Alabama's throne, they at least are likeable and reliable, a good workingman's band, and they're at their best on Let's Be Us Again.

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