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Hal Ketchum

The King of Love – 2003 (Curb)

Reviewed by Robert Loy

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CDs by Hal Ketchum

Hal Ketchum hit the ground running in the early '90s when his first single ("Small Town Saturday Night") went all the way to number 1. Several top 10 hits followed, but Ketchum never rose to the rank of superstar, which may be a backhanded blessing. Selling enough CDs to satisfy the suits while remaining beneath radio's radar allows Ketchum to control his output more than most of the big shots.

Never more so than on this, his 8th Curb album. He had a hand in the writing of 14 of the 15 tracks, and for the 1st time, he produced the CD himself. He's following his muse all the map here. The title track is a light-hearted boast from a Casanova manqu+. He waxes philosophical on "God Makes Stars" and "Angel Song," while "Evangeline" evokes some of the darker mood of his "Awaiting Redemption" CD. He even goes Gaelic on "The Skies Over Dublin." All with a sure hand and that wonderfully distinctive and emotive voice of his.

Ketchum is one of the most talented and intelligent artists to emerge in the last 15 years. There are several tracks here that sound like hits, among them "Every Time I Look in Your Eyes" from the soundtrack of the Sylvester Stallone film "Avenging Angelo" and "As Long as You Love Me" a duet with Jonell Mosser. Whether radio intends to give them a listen remains to be seen.