Charley Pride


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On his first collection of new material in eight years, Charley Pride sounds much as he always has. If you're looking for any touches of modernism, you won't find them, except maybe in the lyrics of "America the Great," the tune that opens the album. If the disgruntled Tea Party crowd is looking for a theme song, "America the Great" could be it. It opens with a snare drum tapping out a martial marching rhythm and sounds like an anthem to the worst kind of conservative values. It references Jefferson and Kennedy, but pines more for values those icons feared, including prayer in the schools, "family values," and putting the Ten Commandments in the lobby of a courthouse. Its chauvinistic feel mars an otherwise pleasant album, although there is a thread of mindless nostalgia running through several tunes here that almost makes them parodies of themselves. "Hickory Hollow Times & County News" and "Guntersville Gazette" both recall the days when newsprint was the major source of the news, not a band thing, but the tunes trade on formulaic images to make their point -- high-school sports scores, births, deaths, divorces, and in the case of "Guntersville Gazette," an old sweetheart marrying her new beau. He sounds better on the straightforward love songs. "The Bottom Line" celebrates long-term love with a Cajun rock backbeat and "You Touched My Life" and "Except for You" are the kind of mellow romantic ballads Pride excels at, while "The Choices She Made" celebrates the sacrifices working-class women often make for their men. "Cajun Party Time," the one uptempo tune, is a hoot and a welcome respite from the album's mostly serious fare. Pride is in fine voice throughout. He still has a youthful tone and sincere delivery that make even the most tired clich├ęs ring true, and his love songs are still delivered with a comforting glow.

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