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Ty Herndon

Steam – 1999 (Sony)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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CDs by Ty Herndon

Ty Herndon appears to be making a play to become the next Tom Jones - only with a drawl. But while songs like the title cut, and the striptease of Randy Newman's "You Can Leave Your Hat On" work up a light sweat, don't expect all of Jones' fans to suddenly start throwing their hotel keys Herndon's way.

That's because this man, who began as a childhood gospel singer, is just too darn polite to come right out and demand sex. Besides, he sounds way too conflicted. He opens with a song that warns against a life of seeking the pleasures of the flesh ("Lookin' For The Good Life"), then spends the most of the rest of the album seeking after these same carnal pleasures. Will the real Herndon please stand up? A soul singer like Al Green or Marvin Gaye might really be able to make these songs come alive, but with the studio band's plodding color-by-numbers arrangements, and Herndon's straight-with-no-frills singing, this 10-song set just dies with a thud.

The only bright spot is a thoughtful song about an encounter with a bum, called "Pray For Me." It's the kind of story-song that used to be common in country music, but here it's but an exception.