Keith Harling

Bring It On

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As difficult a time as Keith Harling had getting to Nashville, once he got there things got even harder for him. You'd think that a New Traditional singer/songwriter who put three singles from his debut album, Write It in Stone, in the country charts, including two, "Papa Bear" and "Write It in Stone," that he wrote himself, would take his career to the next step with a well set-up second album. Instead, in the bloodletting that accompanied MCA's acquisition of PolyGram, he was dropped from the MCA roster; apparently you had to have gone gold your first time out to make the cut. Happily, he was scooped up immediately by Giant Records, but not so happily the label doesn't seem to trust him to make his own record -- while he wrote two-thirds of his first album, he wrote nothing on his second Bring It On. No doubt relieved to even have a record contract, he has done his best on the collection of 11 sturdy country songs that the label found for him, but the chance for something individual has been lost. The music is standard-issue country-pop with occasional (but not too frequent) honky tonk elements; the lyrics are the usual sort of catch-phrase clich├ęs -- "Bring It On," "As If," "It Goes Something Like This" -- wedded to the usual romantic sentiments. The title song was rising on the country charts before the album's release, and there are other songs that sound like possible winners on country radio in its currently pop-compromised state. The promise Harling showed on his first album, however, has been deferred for now.

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