Kix Brooks, "New to This Town" (Arista Nashville)
"New to This Town" is Kix Brooks' first album since the end of Brooks & Dunn -- and the second solo effort of his career. The album's high points revel in the rambunctious attitude the Louisiana native brought to the long-running superstar duo. The low points, however, serve as a reminder why Ronnie Dunn was such a good partner for Brooks.
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At his best, Brooks injects spirit and personality into country rockers such as "Let's Do This Thing" and the title song (featuring a guest appearance by Joe Walsh). But he falters the few times he tries to ease the pace. "Bring It On Home" is a well-written ballad about a man giving up wild nights in honor of the woman in his life. Brooks talks his way through the start of the tender lyrics, then struggles when the chorus and the end of the song ask him to show a larger vocal range.
Brooks, as always, proves convincing when romping through songs about life in the fast lane. But, on his own for the first time in more than 20 years, he proves he needs help when he slows things down.
Check this out: "There's the Sun" finds Brooks wading through some slinky country funk. He makes it as inviting as absorbing rays on a lazy afternoon on the banks of a bayou river.