Picks and Pans Review: Keith Stegall
Stegall, 30, is one of the most prolific pop songwriters, having worked for artists ranging from Johnny Mathis (Simple and Touch by Touch) to Juice Newton (Texas Heartache) to Helen Reddy (Looks Like Love) to Al Jarreau (We're in This Love Together). That's a wide range, but on this, his first album, he doesn't display the musical identity crisis one might expect. Born in Wichita Falls, Texas, he sings with a relaxed, mild delivery. He's neither a honky-tonker like Mickey Gilley nor an old smoothie like Don Williams, yet he shares some of their ease and winning appeal. He wrote or co-wrote seven of the songs on this 10-cut LP, and there are a couple of semi-clinkers: California might get his Texas birthright rescinded, and the repetitive Pretty Lady includes the kind of clichéd lyrics Stegall is rarely guilty of ("Pretty lady, are you somebody's baby/You know you sure look blue to me/Would you like some company?"). Whatever Turns You On was a nice idea nicely turned, however, and Straight Shooter and Mary-lee have wit and vitality, not to mention some hot guitar backing by Brent Mason. (The first-class studio band behind Stegall also includes pedal man Doyle Grisham and Blaine Sprouse on fiddle.) The release of this album ought not to be an occasion for rewriting country music history, but not many performers have such an intriguing way with a song. Stegall leaves you wanting more. (Epic)
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