With its signings of folks like Ross Nickerson, John Anderson, and Rhett Akins, Audium Records is like the second chance home for those country neo-traditionalists squeezed out of Nashville by both the pop direction of Faith Hill or Shania Twain and the rootsier moves of the alt-country posses. Like Akins' three major-label albums of the '90s, 2002's Friday Night in Dixie blends George Strait and the Marshall Tucker Band for an entertaining if not particularly innovative mix of country twang and Southern rock choogle. The title track, co-written and produced by Charlie Daniels, raises the most hell, but Akins is at his best on more introspective material like the sweet "She Was" and the lonesome "Where the Blacktop Ends." Bookended by a pair of country-radio possibilities, the anonymous but catchy "Highway Sunrise" and a swell acoustic version of Akins' biggest '90s hit, "That Ain't My Truck," Friday Night in Dixie is a solid comeback for a journeyman singer/songwriter.
AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason