Tyler England (RCA, 1995)
Reviewed by Chuck Hamilton
It helps to have friends in low places, especially when you're trying to break away from the pack of "flavor of the month" country acts. England debuts with a track record as Garth Brooks' lead guitarist for six years. With that comes the burden of being compared to Brooks. Unfortunately, England's handlers have not done enough to create a separate identity. The cover photo looks similar to one from a Brooks CD, and England's voice is not different from his mentor. None of this would matter if England would give a compelling reason to keep playing his album. He doesn't. It's an uneven effort, laden with drum-heavy retread rock and saccharine, John Michael Montgomery-type ballads. More for "country music for people who don't like country." England, from rural Oklahoma, does have country roots, and he does belt out a couple of toe tappers ("Should've Asked Her Faster" and "A Swing Like That") like someone who knows his way around the honky tonk. Too bad producer Garth Fundis didn't turn him loose with more tunes like those. Instead, he and England came up with a disc that says "yeah, I"m country, but I'll do all this other stuff to get airplay."