Harling - Write It In Stone
I don't like most new country
singers who wear hats. Most of them have no distinguishable
quality to set them apart from the legions of hat acts who
came before. Which is to say they borrow the clothing (hat)
from George Strait, and the biography from Garth Brooks (listening
to James Taylor records while dreaming of becoming a country
star.) However, simply wearing a hat does not automatically
render one incapable of making good music. Such is the case
with newcomer Keith Harling.
Keith was born in South Carolina,
and calls Chattanooga, Tennessee home. These are fairly obvious
facts as his deep baritone wraps around words such as "hall"
and "on." Which only rhyme once they are subjected
to Keith's delicious voice. Okay, I forgot to mention, he's
6'5" with the hat and boots, has blond hair and blue
eyes. In other words, he is the perfect man, and when he sings
"I could go home early for a little fun," any red-blooded
female will wish that he was coming home to her, but I assure
you that Mr. Harling's gymnast physique in no way interferes
with my assessment of his musical talents.
The album starts out with "Papa
Bear," which is also the first single. The narrator in
the song has a perfect story book life, but that all ends
when he goes home to find his wife in bed with another man.
While that is rather depressing (as it is supposed to be-this
is a COUNTRY album), it is in no way as sad as "I Never
Go Around Mirrors," in which the singer laments his lost
love by "never combing his hair or shaving his face."
The person in the song has become so pathetic that he even
despises himself. Keith instantly makes the song his so that
it is impossible to imagine anyone else singing it, even though
it been previously recorded by country legend Lefty Frizzell
and the late Keith Whitley. The entire album is not this depressing.
"I Love What I See" is a light look at falling in
love. "Right in The Middle" is a bouncing uptempo
number celebrating being happily in love. "There Goes
the Neighborhood" is a light-hearted complaint from a
bum's point of view when Prince Charming moves next door.
There are a variety of emotions on the album, and every song
on it is wonderful. There isn't a dog track among the ten.
It is what you might call a must-have.
With the exception of the hat,
Keith doesn't follow any of the current annoying trends that
country music has become fond of lately. He's not in high
school (at thirty-five he is old enough to be LeAnn Rimes'
father.) His albums will most likely never cross over into
the pop charts. He doesn't show his belly-button. He doesn't
wear spandex. For all of those reasons, I am concerned that
Keith Harling will be find himself without a recording contract
in the distant future. However, if good music still means
anything to anyone, Keith Harling will continue to make many
more albums. In the meantime, we'll just have to be content
the wonderful music present on Write It In Stone.
It In Stone
out of 5.0