When It All Goes South

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If Kevin Costner was a country singer he'd probably have Randy Owen's sensitive baritone voice, which in tandem with the requisite soaring fiddles ever-present here is Alabama's not-so-secret weapon. The band seem so effortlessly expert at creating perfect contemporary country confections it's hard to imagine them ever out of the spotlight, yet they spent a large part of the '90s sidelined by an onslaught of fresh country stars and guys in black hats.

Alabama's first release of the new millennium is clearly a bid to recapture past glories, and it succeeds brilliantly. The title track is another in a noteworthy line of South's-gonna-rise-again anthems that straddles both commercial rock and country markets, and although the band occasionally descends into syrupy ballads the likes of "Will You Marry Me," there's always a potential AOR smash like "I Can't Hide My Heart" or "I Can't Love You Any Less" to show the world that Alabama's back where it belongs.

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