I really like the popular country duo, "Big and Rich," and was eager to purchase and listen to their new CD this week. I'm on my third time through it, as I've had it playing in my car while driving to and fro on visits and such since yesterday morning. It'll probably grow on me with time, but I'm still waiting for a worthy successor to their first record, "Horse of a Different Color." That first one didn't have to grow on me; I loved it from the first time I heard it, and I doubt that I'll ever grow tired of it. There was such a creative energy to it, both in the music and in the lyrics. The songs were clever, sometimes silly, and in some cases quite profound.
My sense is that Big and Rich have been reaching for that same brilliant combination on their subsequent records, but such things are rare and elusive. Trying too hard usually gets in the way and only makes it worse. I realize that music requires technical skill and proficiency, and lots of practice to do it well. But it is also a creative process and artistic expression, which are more from the heart than from the head or the hand. Big and Rich were comfortable with themselves, relaxed and having fun on "Horse of a Different Color," and that made it great fun to listen to. Now it sounds (to me) like they're working to have fun, which isn't so much.
I know that one of my young friends, Lynea, is a Big and Rich fan, too. I'll be curious to get her reactions to this new CD, "Between Raising Hell and Amazing Grace." With her own impending nuptials on the horizon, I'm guessing that she'll really like the first song, "Lost in This Moment," which is also among my favorites so far. But listen up, Kenny and John, if you're gonna cover AC/DC, you gotta do it right. "You Shook Me All Night Long" simply does not work without the chunky riffs, the wailing lead guitar, and the half-snarling, half-smirking vocals. Y'all could've pulled it off, no doubt, but it just sounds hokey, and you can't dance to it.