Sammy Sadler

Heart Shaped Like Texas

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Sammy Sadler is a journeyman country singer who has been recording since the late 1980s, but who suffered a serious career interruption when he was shot on Music Row in Nashville in the company of journalist Kevin Hughes, who was murdered as the result of a chart-fixing scheme. Sadler wasn't implicated in the scandal, but his career was derailed for a while. He reminds listeners of the incident in the closing track of Heart Shaped Like Texas, "Thank God," the one song he co-wrote on the album, and while that might seem exploitative, it's also the only truly personal moment on the disc. Sadler has a warm, sturdy tenor voice, and he convincingly renders these 11 songs, which come from the pens of 22 writers. The material spans familiar country styles: "I Wanna Be Loved by You" is country pop; "Heart Shaped Like Texas" is honky tonk/Western swing; "Thinking About Mexico" is Tex-Mex, etc. There is also a strain of Christian religion that runs through the album, notably on "John 3:16." It's all perfectly adequate contemporary country music, but also unremarkable. Even when Sadler gets hold of a song by A-list songwriters Bill Anderson and Steve Wariner, "I'll Always Have Denver" (and ropes Wariner into singing harmony), it's not really top-drawer material, as the derivative title suggests. Sadler needs better songs and a more distinctive persona if he's ever going to be a country star.

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