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With Houser, it's all worthwhile

House of Blues , Anaheim, Cal., March 5, 2022

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

Every Randy Houser concert is a reminder of how he's one of country music's finest vocalists. He's from Mississippi, which might help explain the natural blues sound in his singing voice. And Houser was in strong voice on this night.

Surprisingly, Houser populated his set with three cover songs. Surprising, that is, because he has so many fine original hits, like the anthemic "How Country Feels," which had the crowd loudly singing along with Houser. His first cover was Garth Brooks' "Rodeo." He introduced it by stating how Brooks had a profound influence on Houser when he was first coming up.

Toward the night's end, he revved up the band with Alan Jackson's "Chattahoochee" and sang the country blues on Travs Tritt's "Here's a Quarter (Call Someone Who Cares)." If nothing less, these choices were clearly crowd pleasers. Houser saved his best moment for last, with closer "Like A Cowboy." He prefaced performing it by explaining how its lyrics were inspired by a trip to Iraq to sing for the American troops during that war. This one is lyrically and musically manly, in the all best possible ways.

Alabama native, now Nashville-based Ella Langley opened the show with a set that provided mixed results. For starters, she came out wearing an oversized t-shirt, which just looked too casual and unbecoming for such a high- profile date. Her setlist, which was a combination of party anthem covers (like Gretchen Wilson's "Here for the Party"), and sensitive originals, such as the sensitive piano ballad "If You Have To." She just didn't create a consistent tone, which made it difficult to figure out who she's trying to be.

In the end, though, Houser made the evening worthwhile. In addition to sounding good, Houser also looks like he's lost a little weight. He appeared fit and trim, as he consistently sang wonderfully. If this is how country feels, by all means, give us more of it!

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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