Clay Walker

Live, Laugh, Love

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Clay Walker is a good journeyman singer. He has a strong voice, knows how to twist clichés to his advantage, and knows that straying too far from the clichés will lose his wide audience. In turn, that means that he's enjoyable, but a little predictable, which is an accurate assessment of Live, Laugh, Love, his fifth album. The album never really distinguishes itself from its predecessors. Like those records, it's a safe blend of pop ballads, mild rockers, and polished honky tonk, all delivered in Walker's twangy tenor. Even if the ballads occasionally touch on adult contemporary (witness "Once in a Lifetime Love"), it's considerably more country than, say, Tim McGraw, but the music doesn't show enough imagination and isn't organic enough to stand apart from the neo-traditionalist pack. That said, it's hardly bad -- the material may be uneven, but "She's Always Right" has a good sense of humor and "Lose Some Sleep Tonight" is quite good, while the title track is an amusing twist on Faron Young's "Live Fast, Love Hard, Die Young," a calypso-ish number that is designed for yuppies into hat music. Ultimately, Live, Laugh, Love drags a bit too much to rank among Walker's best, but it has its moments.

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