Clint Black may not be the commercial superstar he was in the late '80s/early '90s, but "Out of Sane" - his first studio project in five years - reveals the same high level song craftsmanship that brought him well deserved fame in the first place. These 12 songs - many written with Steve Wariner - prove Black is still quite the sharp songsmith.
Whether he's performing something strongly bluegrass instrumental-ed ("With Love") or pulling out his harmonica for the chugging and charging "Found It Any Way," Black consistently creates smart, memorable country songs. Although "Out of Sane" is not always a diehard traditional-oriented album, it's still far more country-sounding than much of what gets played these days on mainstream radio. With "America (Still In Love With You)," Black is even topical, performing a patriotic lyric sung as a love song to his homeland.
And while not always an especially cerebral songwriter, two of the songs are specifically about thinking. "My Best Thinkin'" celebrates his thoughts about the one somebody he loves, while "Can't Quit Thinkin'" addresses obsessive thoughts about another. He opens with "Hell Bent," which is enticingly moody and twangy, and a little like a spaghetti western movie put to song.
Popularity can certainly be a fickle thing. Why one artist slips down from the top tier, while others remain up there for the long haul, is not always easily explained. Quality, on the other hand, is a much more objective measurement. In a perfect world, "Out of Sane" would put Clint Black right into the thick of the mainstream pack. Even if it doesn't get him there, though, this music will immediately remind you why you loved Black in the first place.