Bob Wayne

Outlaw Carnie

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Country singer Bob Wayne's Century Media debut (and fourth solo album overall) will undoubtedly leave the metalheads who comprise 99 percent of that label's consumer base scratching their heads, but the singer's roots in the heavy metal community and subsequent collaboration with Hank Williams III are both rather legit bona fides in his favor. Make no mistake, though, the contents of Outlaw Carnie are 100 percent banjo-picking, fiddle-sawing, boot-stomping, leg-slapping, gun-toting, wife-beating country music (unless you think a little cussing and taking the lord's name in vain now and then automatically disqualifies it as such), and a lot of it actually consists of manic, "Devil Went Down to Georgia"-styled barnburners (see "Road Bound," "Mack," etc.). They ain't very original, but they sure have spunk, and Bob does ease off the accelerator a few songs in to allow his sordid yarns filled with colorful characters to stand out, front and center -- but the mixture of excesses and clich├ęs abused throughout occasionally feels rather forced, or worse, like a parody of the entire country genre. Not helping Bob's candidacy to receive the key to the city of Nashville is the song "Ghost Town," which commits some sort of sacrilege by involving the ghost of Johnny Cash in its story line, and is then followed by the morose "Reptile," where Bob just flat-out impersonates the Man in Black's every baritone drawl. But it's probably the barely disguised Pantera tribute, "Driven by Demons," that confirms this record's function as a country album for open-minded metalheads, more so than a country record for broad-minded country music fans (and is there really such a thing, anyway? Just kidding). That's not so say Outlaw Carnie isn't entertaining at times, because it sure as hell is, but the album leaves little doubt as to why Wayne eventually found himself signed to a heavy metal label.

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