Garth Brooks

Fresh Horses

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Garth Brooks had to move forward in a dramatic way with Fresh Horses, his first new album since 1993. Following the massive successive of The Hits -- which effectively recapped why the singer became the single most popular American performer of the '90s -- Brooks positioned himself for a new direction with Fresh Horses. The problem is, he doesn't know which way he should go. Throughout the album, he swings back and forth between country and rock without any sense of purpose. Brooks tries to rework Aerosmith's "The Fever" into a rowdy rodeo country-rocker, but the end result is forced and half-hearted. The Aerosmith cover illustrates the problems of Fresh Horses: Brooks is trying too hard to cover new territory and restore hardcore honky tonk grit to his slick country-rock. When he lets his guard down -- such on as the melancholy ballad "The Beaches of Cheyenne" and the sassy, suggestive "It's Midnight Cinderella" -- he can still come up with winners, but those moments don't come frequently on Fresh Horses.

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