Reviewed by C. Eric Banister
After years at the top of the charts as one of the most distinct voices in country, Sammy Kershaw, like many new traditionalist of the time, fell out of favor with country radio. His new album, "Better Than I Used To Be," shows it was their loss. On his first new album in four years, Kershaw nearly lives up to the title, displaying a voice that is as strong as it has ever been.
The album kicks-off with the raucous That Train, which showcases the stylistic voice that rocketed Kershaw to number one in years past. What follows are 10 cuts that continue building on the promise of the first song. The songs range from the swagger of Better Than I Used To Be to the insightfulness of Through The Eyes Of A Woman to the tale of heart break in Like I Wasn't Even There, which allows Kershaw to hew close to his George Jones influence without crossing over to imitation.
Producer Buddy Cannon, perhaps best known these days as Kenny Chesney's producer, does his usually masterful job of getting the best from his performer. Perhaps it is Chesney's shadow that is felt on Saltwater Cowboy, but Kershaw delivers it with pure conviction. Appearing as more than a shadow is the ever-popular Jamey Johnson on a playful duet of the classic Dr. Hook song The Cover Of The Rolling Stone.
If you were a fan of Kershaw in the '90s, you owe it to yourself to pick up this album. If you weren't one, this one might just make you one.