Picks and Pans Review: If You Ain't Lovin' (you Ain't Livin')

updated 04/11/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/11/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

George Strait

Well, shucks, if George keeps ambling and moseying along in this general direction, he's going to find himself in Don Williams' territory. Now there's plenty to be said for that kind of thing. Like Williams, Strait projects masses of warmth and calm, and on this record he even lies back to give edifying pieces of solo time to such studio talents as fiddler Johnny Gimble and piano player Floyd Domino. The Curtis Wayne tune Bigger Man Than Me provides a forum for self-effacing irony, and there's a cozy romantic number, the Ronnie McDowell-Troy Seals-Joe Meador ballad Under These Conditions. What gives reason for pause is that while Williams has developed a sort of franchise on easygoing, mellower-than-mellow country music, Strait has built his following by sounding livelier and more his relatively youthful age (36). Williams never confuses lack of pace with lack of spirit either, and there are a couple of flat moments on this album. Nor is there anything approaching the fun of last year's Ocean Front Property (although Famous Last Words of a Fool tries, a little too hard). While this is a pleasant record, it doesn't stand much comparison with such previous Strait productions as Strait from the Heart or #7. (MCA)

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