Uncle Kracker - Midnight Special
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Midnight Special (Sugar Hill, 2012)

Uncle Kracker

Reviewed by Andrew Greenhalgh

It seems like it was just the other day that Uncle Kracker, aka Matt Shafer, emerged from behind the DJ booth where he was spinning records for fellow Detroit pal Kid Rock and came into his own, seeing his solo career garner solid hits like Follow Me and Drift Away. And as his more recent albums have shown, Uncle Kracker is at a place where he's ready to step away from his hip-hop and rock days and simply settle back down to the place where he's most comfortable and that's exactly what he does on "Midnight Special."

From the first strains of the opening track, You Got That Thang, listeners know that Uncle Kracker is working right within his wheelhouse. Bluesy country guitar and a mid-tempo beat lays a fine palette for the artist's smitten lyrics, but it's not until Four Letter Word that things really get cooking. Pleasantly rocking country colors this contrast in manic love and hate while Blue Skies stands up as a breezy, carefree summer jam.

The production of Keith Stegall (Alan Jackson, Zac Brown Band) pushes Kracker further vocally on When I Close My Eyes as the artist delivers great lyrics like, "And I'm wiser than I was that day/Now I'd have some words to say/Ones that just might make you stay with me/That's only when I close my eyes" before segueing into the horn-touched In Between Disasters as he sings of recovering from heartbreak. That pain is set aside on the country rocker Nobody's Sad on a Saturday Night while Who We Are harnesses some poignant piano notes to hammer home it's message. And, saving the best for last, Kracker duets with Sonia Leigh, whose smoky, sexy vocals lend It Is What It Is the perfect foil for the tale of this "beautiful mess."

Uncle Kracker's "Midnight Special" is chock full of good, honest country tunes that deserve a listen.

CDs by Uncle Kracker

Midnight Special, 2012

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