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Music review

More than a trace of country in Adkins' songs

Email|Print| Text size + By Stuart Munro
Globe Correspondent / February 2, 2008

LOWELL - In a bit of autobiography, the 2005 hit "Songs About Me," Trace Adkins describes the songs he sings as "country music mixed with a little rock and a little blues."

That was probably true once upon a time, when Adkins emerged singing songs that leaned to the traditional side of the country spectrum. But as he has steadily moved in the direction of arena country, these days the relative proportions of that equation are probably reversed.

A listen to his current release, "Greatest Hits, Volume II: American Man" (especially compared to the first volume), makes that clear. And because Adkins is promoting that release on tour, it was also evident Thursday night at a half-full, midsize arena in Lowell, where he performed all but one of the songs from that collection.

There was a little bit of twang in his show: "Rough & Ready" and Adkins's latest single, "You're Gonna Miss This," for example, manifested audible, sustained amounts of fiddle, steel, and Telecaster.

For the most part, though, the evening oscillated between big, anthemic rockers and power ballads, from "I Got My Game On," which kicked things off, to the smoldering "Every Light in the House."

Adkins wedded that sonically mixed bag to a bevy of typically country themes, touching on patriotism ("Arlington"), working men ("I'm Tryin,' " one of his finest songs, and "American Man," one of his most clichéd), and good ole country boys ("Ladies Love Country Boys").

But Adkins stands out thematically in his role as a contemporary country version of Conway Twitty, singing unabashed love songs and unadulterated come-ons, abetted in no small measure by his rumbling, river-deep baritone, his 6-foot-8-inch frame, and his flowing, beyond-shoulder-length locks.

"I Left Something Turned On at Home," "(This Ain't) No Thinking Thing," and, most of all, "Hot Mama" were among the heartthrob numbers he offered the crowd - especially one part of it.

And for the boys, there was what might be Adkins's biggest hit to date, "Honky Tonk Badonkadonk,"a song that - in mixing an urban slang term expressing admiration for a particular part of the female anatomy with lyrics like "Lord have mercy, how'd she even get them britches on" - also brought the country in its own way.

Trace Adkins

At: Tsongas Arena (Lowell), Thursday

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