Joe Diffie

In Another World

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Country is more a music of songs than albums, as its practitioners scour Nashville publishers for ten good compositions in the established style, then hope one or two of them will connect with fans. Joe Diffie has put together a decade-plus career in country largely on his ability to succeed in this quest. An adequate but undistinguished singer, he has proven versatile enough to score with a variety of material, and if he has never ascended to superstar status, that he is still going after ten years is a considerable accomplishment. His albums as albums tend to suffer from the typical country flaw: They sound like ten separate songs instead of coherent collections. That's true of In Another World, too, but, as usual, there seem to be enough potential singles to keep him going. The title song, which, typical of the current market, was on country radio for months prior to the album's release, isn't really one of the stronger tracks; it's a wistful reflection on lost love, but a bit sketchy. Far better is the second track, the raucous kiss-off song "My Give a Damn's Busted." Diffie has made a small specialty of such novelties, and he gives a letter-perfect reading to this one, which sounds like a hit waiting to happen if country fans don't find it a tad too sarcastic. Typically, though, it's a one-off; nothing else on the record sounds remotely like it. "If I Lost Her" is the best ballad, while "This Pretender" sounds like something the Eagles could have done. The rest of the tracks are sturdy formula country with their twisted clich├ęs, sentimental messages, and instrumentation. The producers have achieved a remarkably high-tech sound for a country disc, even if the result comes off as freeze-dried on occasion, especially in the harmony vocals.

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