Ronnie Dunn

Ronnie Dunn

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Some four years after Brooks & Dunn called it quits with 2007’s Cowboy Town, Ronnie Dunn headed out on his own with an eponymous solo album. Dunn’s split with Brooks contained very little bad blood, so perhaps it’s not surprising that Ronnie Dunn sounds quite a bit like latter-day Brooks & Dunn; the only missing thing is the cowboy swagger, which is swapped out for a predilection for pop. This fondness for the sweet stuff is somewhat camouflaged by a production that has a pretense of grit but is not adverse to running Ronnie through Auto-Tune just so everything stays nice and smooth. Everything is about equilibrium: the rockers never get too rowdy, the ballads are never too sappy, the mariachi horns on “How Far to Waco” manage not to overwhelm the twang of the Telecasters. This cool assurance illustrates just how much of an old pro Dunn is: he never betrays his signatures, he switches things up enough to stay modern, and he offers enough different sounds to appeal to any audience at any time of day. What he doesn’t really have is a strong hook to pull listeners into the album; there’s nothing surprising or unexpected or exceptionally hooky, just 12 polished slices of contemporary country that will surely please longtime Brooks & Dunn fans largely because it doesn’t feel all that different than the duo.

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