Picks and Pans Review: Takin' the Country Back

updated 10/06/1997 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/06/1997 AT 01:00 AM EDT

John Anderson

At 42, Anderson is one of country music's few elders still afloat in a youth-crowded talent pool. The Florida-bred baritone, who has been recording since 1974, stands out not just with his decidedly untraditional looks—curly, shoulder-length hair and a scruffy beard adorning an Everyman's face—but also with this new CD that is heads above much of the soulless dross being churned out by 1990s Nashville. The opening "Somebody Slap Me" is filled with a loopy sense of fun ("She looks uptown, but she ain't really/She's into football, she likes my chili"), while the bittersweet "Small Town," cowritten by Anderson and Gary Scruggs, is an ode to the hamlets many of us once called home but never can or will again. It's the touching, introspective tone of the latter and the overall individuality of Anderson's voice and material that will keep him a vital country commodity. (Mercury Nashville)

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