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Hal Ketchum

I Saw the Light – 1998 (Curb)

Reviewed by John Winters

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CDs by Hal Ketchum

Hal Ketchum recently said, "I lead a good life. I sleep well and I have a strong marriage." Not the stuff of intrigue certainly, but on his latest, Ketchum manages to turn these everyday things into something much more.

Ketchum is that rare country artist that puts writing before performing and celebrity. After hit records like his 1991 hit, "Small Town Saturday Night," Ketchum went through rehab last year. Now Ketchum, at 45, is the happy man who's come out the other side, sleeps well and may just be writing some of the best songs of his life.

The title track, the 1971 Todd Rundgren hit, provides the thematic underpinning here as Ketchum conveys the happiness of new-found love in a way that packs sentiment, but is never sentimental. "A Girl Like You" and "When Love Looks Back At You" represent the best of popular country with wall-to-wall hooks. The ballads "For Tonight" and "You'll Never Hurt That Way Again" are simple and beautiful meditations on love.

If all the peace, love and understanding in Ketchum's life begins to wear you down, simply turn off your mind and line dance to "Love Me, Love Me Not," a song simply made for it.