Picks and Pans Review: Chris Cagle

updated 05/12/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/12/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Chris Cagle (Capitol Nashville)

For better or, mostly, for worse, Cagle is reminiscent of midperiod Hank Williams Jr. On his second album, which debuted at the top of the country chart, he shares Williams's common-man touch on tracks such as the hit first single, "What a Beautiful Day," a somewhat charming account of a romance from day one, a chance meeting, to day 18,253, 50 years later. Unfortunately Cagle also shares Williams's humorlessness and macho strutting on songs like the crass "Chicks Dig It," which encourages reckless driving as a way for young guys to impress girls: "Thought I was Earnhardt/ Drivin' fast but I didn't see the ditch/ Took out a mailbox, then a fence and then a barn/ The police came and called my father/ But I met the farmer's daughter."

Cagle cowrote "Chicks Dig It" and all but two of the disc's other 10 tracks, which are generally short on invention, heavy on the routine. As a singer he has an unschooled, nasal delivery devoid of subtlety. Born in Louisiana but raised in Texas, Cagle captures neither state's essence in his music. Nor does he seem to draw much inspiration from his real-life experience working as an oil-field hand, mechanic, cook, bartender and construction worker. As a result, Cagle's follow-up to his 2000 debut, Play It Loud, is downright sophomoric.

BOTTOM LINE: A not-so-good old boy

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