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Chris LeDoux

Cowboy – 2000 (Capitol)

Reviewed by Eli Messinger

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CDs by Chris LeDoux

Chris LeDoux's cowboys are the hybrid athletes, warriors and ranch hands who populate modern rodeo, competing for prizes, and accruing injuries, busted marriages and countless miles on the road. It's a world LeDoux knows well, having been crowned World Champion Bareback Rider in the mid-'70's.

Trading his saddle and spurs for a guitar, microphone and pen, LeDoux released over 20 indie albums throughout the '80's and '90's. On his latest, he revisits 11 of his favorite songs of rodeo life, with a sprinkle of earlier hits, and several fine album tracks that may have escaped listeners' ears the first time around.Few artists articulate the modern cowboy's life so thoughtfully and thoroughly as LeDoux. His characters range from newlyweds discovering rodeo life for two ("Our First Year") to burn-outs facing the end of their careers ("Silence on the Line"). He contrasts the contentment found on the circuit ("Running Through the Rain" "Song of Wyoming") with the longing of those waiting to get on board ("A Cowboy's Got to Ride") or itching to return ("Ten Seconds in the Saddle").

All in all, it's a wondrous peek inside a life that few will see as closely, or describe as fetchingly, as LeDoux.