Chris LeDoux


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Chris LeDoux continues his rowdy/woolly country-rock ways with Horsepower. Produced by rockin' honky tonk maverick Mac McAnally and cohort Alan Schulman, Horsepower is a rollicking ride through the greasy side of modern country. The title cut is almost a rockabilly tune with its shuffling roll of guitars and popping drums. On "All Wound Up," the blues is evoked before a series of tough, distorted guitars back LeDoux's trademark swagger. Rock & roll has become increasingly important to LeDoux's side of the country fence. But that's far from a bad thing when you consider the dung heap of records that come out of the tainted palace of conservatism that is Nashville. In fact, spiritually and aesthetically, LeDoux's brand of country-rock has more in common with the music's celebrated tradition than anything by Tracy Byrd or Trace Adkins. But then, LeDoux is a veteran and his music is deeply influenced by the loud and proud Waylon, John Anderson, and Hank Jr. -- more so than by the era that begot him and Garth Brooks. Ultimately it's the singer and the song that make a fine country album, and this set is full of them: "Smack Dab in the Middle," with its Western swing and two-step shuffle sidling alongside ZZ Top's boogie strut, the slow, easy, funky singalong stroll of "Feels Like I'm Getting Into Something Good," and the deeply honest balladry of "The Buffalo Grass" and "One Less Tornado" stack the deck. Given other records from the 2003 calendar year such as Wynonna's What the World Needs Now Is Love, Patty Loveless' On Your Way Home, George Strait's Honkytonkville, Marty Stuart's Country Music, and Rodney Crowell's Fate's Right Hand, the music is in better shape than the business is, though there is still so much crap it's tough to fined the jewels. Horsepower is definitely a rare, gleaming one.

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