Hal Ketchum

Greatest Hits

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With his easy, laid-back singing style and almost folky approach to things, Hal Ketchum falls to the soft rock side of the contemporary country music spectrum, and consequently, he has always sounded like an artist apart in the genre, although his solid songwriting and shrewd choices in the songs he covers have placed him high on the country charts several times with impossible not to like sides like "Small Town Saturday Night," "I Know Where Love Lives," "Sure Love," and the impressive "Hearts Are Gonna Roll." This brief set (at ten songs, it contains four less than Curb Records' earlier Hits collection from 1996) has all of those hits plus his interesting cover of the Vogues' 1965 hit "Five O'Clock World," and it contains the bare bone essentials from Ketchum's early-'90s tenure at Curb. Although his themes are honky tonk in nature, the sound he uses to present things isn't traditional honky tonk at all, and he remains an artist, much like Mary Chapin Carpenter, caught on an odd island between folk and hard country, belonging to neither camp entirely. At any rate, these ten tracks are probably, at least for now, the heart of his commercial legacy, and they go down remarkably easy and comfortably, with little flash or fanfare, a trait that is most likely more a blessing than a curse.

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