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CD Review: Pat Green's 'What I'm For'

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

WHAT I'M FOR

Pat Green

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Patriotism abounds in country music, but finding genuine altruism amid the amber waves of jingo-jangles can be hard work. Pat Green makes it easy with his eighth album, "What I'm For," offering a title track that roots for the undervalued and underpaid: inner-city teachers, Detroit autoworkers, drive-through employees and struggling retirees. "You don't have to guess what I'm against if you know what I'm for," his chorus declares, electric guitars chiming at the frequency of a pickup truck commercial, a John Mellencamp tune, or maybe a John Mellencamp-scored pickup truck commercial.

This is rock-tinged country music that evokes heartland struggle while deftly tugging at the most hardened of heartstrings. "Footsteps of Our Fathers" is even more rousing, tempering flag-waving platitudes ("We're all in this together") with a refreshing bluntness ("I'm making all this [expletive] up as I go"). Here, and elsewhere, Green's swollen hooks often come in a voice that sounds a little strained and feels plenty sincere.

Odd then, that Green's vocals make his lighter fare seem hammy. There's a slyness in his vowels that doesn't sit right in the slow-burn of "Let Me," the playful "Country Star" or the mournful "In the Middle of the Night." Romance, humor and regret may be universal themes, but with "What I'm For," Green works best in shades of red, white and blue.

-- Chris Richards

DOWNLOAD THESE: "What I'm For," "Footsteps of Our Fathers," "In This World"


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