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Clayton Bellamy

Everyone's a Dreamer – 2011 (Knuckle Sandwich/EMI)

Reviewed by Dustin Blumhagen

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CDs by Clayton Bellamy

Clayton Bellamy is best known as one of the three main members of "truck driving" country rock concept band The Road Hammers. But before he joined Jason McCoy (an established solo artist himself) and Chris Byrne, Bellamy independently released a solid solo album with Hammers drummer Corbett Frasz that leaned more toward the "Heartland" rock of artists like John Mellencamp than outlaw country.

On his sophomore solo release, Bellamy continues along the path that he started more than a decade ago forgoing the Southern rock sound for a mellower album that will likely appear to the middle aged mothers of Road Hammers fans. Those expecting a rootsy affair due to the inclusion of Steve Earle's producer-engineer Ray Kennedy will be sorely disappointed. This is unflinchingly modern mainstream Nashville country, for better or worse. The ultra cheesy Nineteen is an embarrassingly obvious attempt to gain an American fan base with pro-military sentiments and focus on football. The lead single and title track again suffers from excess cheese, reducing what could have been an inspirational anthem into something worthy of the next Rascal Flatts' album.

That harsh criticism aside, it is important to note that the album as a whole is worth a listen. It is radio friendly and fits nicely alongside the current crop of mainstream country artists. Alberta Bones, featuring Big Sugar's Gordie Johnson is a definite highlight, with Johnson's trademark blues sound bringing an edge to Bellamy's poppier tendencies. It is a rare feat for a Canadian artist to make it big in Nashville, so Bellamy has his work cut out for him. His choice to take the safe road could be construed as an attempt to put fame over art.