Classic country, energetic playing, and rock & roll spirit is at the heart of this release. Back in the early '90s, Elbert West penned the first two hits for Tracy Lawrence. On this release, his debut, West moves into the spotlight as an artist in his own right. It's an old story that the music coming out of Nashville throughout the '90s and beyond has been weak (and "un-country"). But an effort like this reminds us what the genre should be -- and what it was in the grand old days of Merle Haggard, George Jones, and others. Elbert West is country-rock in the way that Haggard was country-rock (let's pause to remember that Haggard brought a rock & roll spirit to country long before Gram Parsons was old enough to dip into his trust fund; that's why guys like Parsons and Chris Hillman idolized him). West has a big, husky baritone, a keen songwriting ability, a defiant attitude, and is a major country talent. Highlights of Livin' the Life include the title track, "Diddley," the beautiful "Robin Loves to Hear Me Sing," and "Crawling Time."
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AllMusic Review by Erik Hage