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Charlie Major

444 – 2000 (Dead Reckoning)

Reviewed by Joel Bernstein

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CDs by Charlie Major

Charlie Major wrote "Backroads," a huge country hit for Ricky Van Shelton in 1992. Major's 1993 debut, "The Other Side," swept every Canadian country music award, but was never released in the U.S. His subsequent albums were less country and less commercial. So for his fourth album (only second in the U.S.), Major is on a label more concerned with talent than how many songs will get on the radio, and it's a good fit.

Major writes mainly about everyday loving and living and sings in a gruff but appealing voice that often reminds of the relatively mellow modern-day Bruce Springsteen. Joy Lynn White and Margo Timmins of The Cowboy Junkies provide sterling vocal support on two songs each, and Tammy Rogers has some tasty fiddle licks, especially on "Side By Side." A lot of the album's best (and certainly countriest) material is in the second half.

"One of The Lost and Lonely" is a standout, although Major's songwriting is more consistently solid than it is spectacular. A cover of Bob Dylan's "Oh Sister" with Timmins is also a gem. "444" probably won't win Major any awards, but it does deserve to win him some American fans.