After performing and recording locally as a singer/songwriter, Brad Colerick left his home state of Nebraska in 1986 to move to California, where he found success creating music for advertising. But the bug to be a recording artist in his own right never left him, and in 2006 he returned to his first love with Cottonwood, released on his own Back 9 Records label. A year later, he's back with Lines in the Dirt, which is an extension of its predecessor. Colerick manages an engaging country-pop style, with the fiddles and steel guitars topped by his pleasant melodies and easy tenor. Also pleasant are his songs, which tend to deal with romantic contentment ("We're Gonna Laugh"), the joys of children (despite its title, "Dismal River Rain"), and other enjoyments of life ("Sweet Corn"). When trouble rears its ugly head, it usually comes at an odd remove. "Paperboy" is a sentimental story-song about a boy who grows up to be a newspaper editor, but Colerick throws in an odd twist when the protagonist unexpectedly finds himself covering the assassination of President Kennedy. (The downside of becoming a journalist is that one must occasionally report very bad news. But what of it?) And then there's the self-confessedly weird story of "My Ex-Wife." It's not clear that Colerick -- or the first-person narrator of the song, anyway -- actually has an ex-wife; it sounds more like he's imagining one, as he sings in the chorus, "In a past life, I think my ex-wife was a little deranged." As he did on Cottonwood with the track "There's a Light (Ode to June & John)," Colerick again pays tribute to the marriage of June Carter Cash and Johnny Cash with a cover of "Ring of Fire" done as a duet with Suzy Bogguss. It's a nice treatment of a song that had some real force in its original recording and thus typical of an artist who seems to have spent so much time making inoffensive commercial music that he hasn't yet figured out how to make compelling personal music, despite his evident desire to leave his day job behind.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann
feat: Suzy Bogguss