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Curtis Grimes

Our Side of the Fence – 2014 (Amp)

Reviewed by Dustin Blumhagen

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CDs by Curtis Grimes

Those who watch televised singing competitions may remember Curtis Grimes from the first season of The Voice. However, those who despise the pop artists that arise from these sort of shows shouldn't be too quick to write off Grimes. The Texan sings straightforward country music that clearly owes a debt to the strong Texas country scene, an American equivalent to Nashville Star's Canadian cowboy George Canyon.

The album cover shows a relaxed guy in a ball cap sitting in the bed of a pickup, which is a good indicator of the music contained within. Grimes was an All-State baseball player who picked up the guitar as an adult and began singing likeable songs in the vein of Clay Walker and Aaron Watson. Success came quickly and he was soon sharing stages with mainstream artists like Kenny Chesney.

On "Our Side of the Fence," Grimes has produced his most polished work to date. The songs are approachable enough to sit comfortably on mainstream radio, yet still true to his Texas roots. There is plenty of fiddle and twang. There are the requisite party songs ("Keg Party," "Drunk for That"), but there is substance to be found as well. The title track takes the grass is greener idiom and applies it to the laid back country lifestyle, celebrating the simplicity in an almost Andy Griffith Show way, rather than the abrasive "f-you" style of the bro country city boys. Grimes gets soulful on the sweet "Better Off," a romantic song for couples facing a rough patch, which is a theme explored again on "Baby Don't Cry." He celebrates summer and the joys of water (fishing, swimming...) on "Wet," a fun song that sneaks in some surprising innuendo. He pushes boundaries again on "Texas Plates," which contains the amusing line "she was driving around with her top down and a nice pair of Texas plates," showing a sense of humor to balance his heartfelt side.

Grimes' sincerity comes across, much like George Strait; a kind country artist who sings about everyday life.