Chris Cagle

Anywhere But Here

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On his third album, Anywhere But Here, Chris Cagle's rock influences shine stronger than ever. Not only does he cover Bon Jovi's "Wanted Dead or Alive" and name-drop Lynyrd Skynyrd, but "Hey Ya'll" has a defiant, hard-rocking swagger and he favors anthemic mid-tempo tunes built on classic rock to honky tonk ravers. But in a time where Big & Rich and their Muzik Mafia cohorts are rewriting contemporary country music as a flashy, ironic lark, this devotion to classic and Southern rock makes Cagle a bit of a traditionalist, and he wears it well on Anywhere But Here. While some of the power ballads veer a little bit toward the generic, there are a bunch of strong songs here, ranging from the opening "You Might Want to Think About It," where Cagle takes a stand for Middle America, to the soaring "Maria," which may be his best fusion of modern country and AOR. Throughout it all, Cagle remains an appealing singer -- his voice may be a little thin, but it's friendly, and it can help sell his tales of love, loss, and living. Anywhere But Here may not be a knockout, but it's a thoroughly likeable, engaging record that proves Chris Cagle is something of a country everyman for 2005, which not only makes him endearing, but a little refreshing next to such oversize personalities as Big & Rich and Toby Keith.

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