Black Music Matters Festival

Jerry Kilgore

Love Trip – 1999 (Virgin Nashville)

Reviewed by Eli Messinger

CDs by Jerry Kilgore

At 34, Kilgore's a bit old for young country, and though this debut LP is Nashville-smooth, it's more George Strait than the anonymous hat crowd. His sensibility includes (according to his bio) the likes of Haggard, Owens and Cash, but his style is more akin to the smoother hits he's written for Tracy Byrd ("Love Lessons") and John Michael Montgomery ("Cover You With Kisses"). He's got a streak of neo-traditionalism, al a Clint Black and Alan Jackson, but another generation removed from the source.

No one's going to mistake Kilgore for a roots act, but his emphasis on fiddle, steel and a twangy guitar or two bear out his country credentials. Kilgore and a few select writers have turned out a variety of ballads, along with a few winning uptempo numbers such as "All Hell's Breaking Loose," "Lonesome Love List" and the title track (and first single). Throughout, the album incorporates catchy harmonies and sing-a-long choruses with clever turns of phrase. Catchy and clever enough to create an impression that actually lasts after the record's finished playing.

This may not have the ground shaking impact of other debuts, but it adds a bit of twang back to the format.