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Tracy Lawrence

The Coast is Clear – 1997 (Atlantic)

Reviewed by Sarah Rodman

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CDs by Tracy Lawrence

Tracy Lawrence does little to distinguish himself from the pack on his sixth album. His smooth baritone continues its pleasant if nuance-less ways, as do his arrangements. The Texan covers lying, cheating, drinking, nostalgia, heartbreak and joy without ever giving up any emotional insight. "Any Minute Now" professes to be about devastating heartbreak but you'd never know it from Lawrence's peppy vocal.

Conversely, "While You Sleep," a lovely piano ballad about being uncommunicative, is the most emotive and touching song on the record. Elsewhere Lawrence baldly cops Jimmy Buffett on "Livin' In Black and White," resists temptation in the mournful " In a Moment of Weakness" and goes through the motions of a typical pop country anthem on "One Step Ahead of the Storm." The few bright spots come in the dusty, Tex-Mex bounce of "How a Cowgirl Says Goodbye" and the darkly brooding guitars and fiddles of "As Lonesome as It Gets."

The coast may be clear, but Lawrence still seems fearful of letting loose.