Jerry Kilgore

Love Trip

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Jerry Kilgore's debut album has been so carefully calibrated to current commercial notions of Nashville success that its real strengths are nearly obscured. Though his biography emphasizes his love of Merle Haggard and Buck Owens and his years of playing honky tonks, Kilgore's record is dominated by bland love ballads, many of which he wrote or co-wrote himself. Two of the singer's co-compositions dwell on the potential difficulties of being distracted by love; he risks a car accident in "It's Dangerous with You on My Mind" and almost loses his job in "If a Man Ain't Thinking 'Bout His Woman," all because he's daydreaming about his significant other. But the songs aren't distinctive enough, and Kilgore isn't a distinctive enough singer, to make such notions work, even when they're not so silly. Then, seven songs in, he finally shows a little honky tonk feel in "All Hell's Breakin' Loose," and the Buck Owens influence starts to make sense. And at the end, with Steve Seskin and Allen Shamblin's story song "Cactus in a Coffee Can," he finally gets his hands on a song that's about something, and he makes the most of it. This is the kind of song that could really do something for him, if he and his handlers weren't so interested in pursuing the young adult female demographic the rest of the album is so squarely aimed at. (As an aside, one can't help wondering why country songwriters keep mentioning crack in their songs, given that it's thought of as such an urban drug. Is there something we don't know about the rural South, or is it just that the word "crack" is so easy to rhyme?)

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