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Album Review

Trace Adkins, 'X'

January 5, 2009
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Country
Trace Adkins X
Capitol
ESSENTIAL "I Can't Outrun You"

Trace Adkins's 10th album has the typical components of the rock-bottom-baritone singer's records. There's the usual sonic mix of country, rock, and blues and the usual lyrical viewpoints - the charging bluster of "Sweet," the country soul come-ons of "Let's Do That Again," the grown-up reflections of "All I Ask For Anymore." It also has a string of songs that show why Adkins can be one of the more interesting artists in contemporary mainstream country. There are a couple of worthy nods to tradition: "Marry for Money" starts off as an acoustic blues lament before kicking into a honky-tonk shuffle gear for the comedy of cynicism reflected in its title, while "Sometimes a Man Takes a Drink" is a searing, stone country slowdown. The album's most enduring moments, though, come with a trio of songs: "Til the Last Shot's Fired," a combined tribute/prayer for peace that visits battlegrounds from past American wars via the eyes of a dying participant in each; "Muddy Water," a search for redemption that shakes with gospel fervor; and "I Can't Outrun You," which Adkins infuses with weary regret, accompanied by just piano and doleful cello, for one of the best vocal performances of his career. (Out now)

STUART MUNRO

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