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Joe Nichols

III – 2005 (Universal South)

Reviewed by John Lupton

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CDs by Joe Nichols

Obviously enough, this is the third effort from Joe Nichols on the heels of a pair of releases that marked him as a solid crooner with roots that run toward the traditional and classic end of the country music spectrum. He shows here again that he's got a pretty good way with slow ballads like "Talk Me Out Of Tampa" and Steve Earle's "My Old Friend The Blues," but those whose tastes run to songs about bars, pick-up trucks and good ol' gals (not necessarily in that order) will be glad to know that there's plenty of the easygoing honky-tonking that marked Nichols' first two discs.

"As Country As She Gets" is an ode to classy women who can overlook theindignities of riding in a pickup, while on the flip side, "Honky Tonk Girl" celebrates the ones who can shoot pool, drink longnecks with the best of them and never forget their roots. For sheer, all-out honky tonk fun, though, Nichols hits the bulls-eye with the single "Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off."

He may not wear a Stetson, but Nichols continues to demonstrate he's among the better classic, hardcore country voices on the scene.