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Tim McGraw

Set This Circus Down – 2001 (Curb)

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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CDs by Tim McGraw

Tim McGraw sprung into superstar status as he increasingly ventured into the rocking, pop sides of country. And his perch is unlikely to change with this, a step forward in some respects. While the basic fabric of McGraw's path to the top remains intact, there is a bit more of a country feel here instead of rocking recent efforts. That is evident from the steel and acoustic start of the lead-off "The Cowboy In Me," which also contains a chunk of fiddle.

The material is stronger as well. Evidence is covering Bruce Robison's "Angry All the Time" with wife Faith Hill singing backing vocals. It's not a power duet la "It's Your Love," and the subject matter of "Angry" provides proof McGraw is willing to stretch it out more here. McGraw also turns in a very sturdy, low-key performance on Mark Collie's "Forget About Us." McGraw probably is singing better than ever. He has demonstrated on stage that he is not exactly the strongest of singers, but here, his voice carries the material very well. Maybe it is the maturing of an artist meshing with fairly solid material.

Several songs are mediocre and "Things Change" seems to be little more than a justification for McGraw's brand of country following in the line of Hank, Elvis and the Outlaws. But the overall impression McGraw leaves is a singer willing to go a bit beyond the tried and true that vaulted him to stardom.