Marshall Madison

Real

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AllMusic Review by

Marshall Madison has all the style and substance of country ├╝ber-stars such as Tim McGraw or Kenny Chesney, especially on the toe-tapping "Not Pretty, But Real," which name drops influences like Conway Twitty. It also has a bit in common with McGraw's "Real Good Man" despite chastising the current glut of "country" frauds. "Truckers Anthem" is rather corny with its mid-tempo sound that brings early-'50s rock to mind. The same can be said for "Harry Arm," a very run-of-the-mill country tune with a whisker of rock within. Madison seems to hit his niche with the classic country ballad sounds on "Jackson Mississippi," holding his own against the likes of Alan Jackson and few others who can pull it off as well. The bouncy '70s country oozing from "Lonely Home" is another early highlight, with Kathy Lee Jarrell providing backing harmonies. "She'll Always Be" is too lightweight for a country song, moving more into an adult contemporary pop area that Madison shouldn't tread too often. Thankfully, "Take Me Away" atones in spades, a catchy country-meets-gospel tune that easily ambles along. Only on "Why and Now does Madison opt for a somber piano tone, giving a good performance for most of the five minutes. "Place of Shattered Dreams" demonstrates his strong songwriting style, as he wrote all 12 songs himself. His only real miscue is leaving "Give Up Eternity" at the bottom of the record, despite it being one of the strongest here.

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