Tobias Rene / Rene Tobias

Living Dreams

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In his native New Mexico, Tobias Rene is a star, one of the leading lights of the state's unique blend of Tejano, traditional country, and smooth pop. This is a style of music that doesn't get much play east of Portales, north of Raton, or west of Farmington, however, so for his third album, Rene reinvented himself as a straightforward contemporary country act. Living Dreams isn't a bad record by any means; in fact, it's filled with solid roadhouse country-rockers like the rollicking "Pour Me a Strong One" and good old-fashioned ballads like the lovely, Eagles-like "When Love's Gone." But it's a little bit faceless in a way that Rene's earlier records aren't. It seems like any half-decent singer in a pair of Wranglers and boots could have tackled most of these songs to no ill effect. Even on "Mexico," which appears twice in both English and Spanish, the onetime appearance of mariachi-style trumpets and guitarron sound more like arrangement gimmicks than integral parts of the song. Living Dreams might open up Tobias Rene's audience a bit, but the new fans aren't getting the whole picture.

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