Award-winning country singer Billy Dean grew a huge fan base in the early '90s with hit songs like "A Fire in the Dark," "Billy the Kid," and "Somewhere in My Broken Heart," and then he kind of slipped from the spotlight. Then he put his best foot forward again with the release of this emotional and thought-provoking 1998 album, Real Man. The acoustic-based tunes on this recording leave a little of the pop flavor behind and lean more comfortably on the simple country he is so good at offering fans. The ballads really let his vocal talents shine. Dean's father was a guitar player and singer and part of a group called the Country Rocks. Working with his band, young Dean grew up under influences like Marty Robbins, Charley Pride, Hank Williams, Jim Reeves, and even Chuck Berry and Elvis. Many of these early influences show on Dean's music. When he started working on this album, Dean took time to rediscover the songwriter within him. The result is that most of the songs on Real Man were written by him, or co-written with longtime friend and former frontman of the group Bread, David Gates. Other songwriters lent some talent to this album also, including Richard Leigh. On this album, you'll find great songs like "Voices Singing," which was done with the backing help of the St. Nicholas School Children's Choir of Chattanooga and Dean's son, Eli. Singer Gina Jefferys duets with Dean for the tune "If I Can Find the Heart."
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AllMusic Review by Charlotte Dillon