Music Review: Clay Walker's "Fall" features strong material with newfound depth
Clay Walker, "Fall" (Curb)
Despite being one of country music's "hat acts" in the 1990s, Clay Walker has achieved a longevity that doesn't always occur in today's here-today, gone-tomorrow entertainment world. The smooth-voiced Texan never attained the star status of peers Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney and Toby Keith, but he's built a respectable track record that includes 31 country hits and four platinum albums since 1993.
"Fall," Walker's first album with Alan Jackson's producer, Keith Stegall, shows a maturity and depth that Walker occasionally lacked in the past. He gets inside story-songs like the recent hit, "'Fore She Was Mama," about brothers discovering surprising photos from their conservative mother's wild youth, with just the right balance of humor and drama.
As in the past, Walker is at his most convincing on tender ballads, such as the new "Love to be Your Last." And he shows growth in the soulful restraint of his cover of "Before the Last Teardrop Falls," sung as a duet with the man who first made it a hit, Freddy Fender, shortly before his death last year.
On occasion, Walker falls into predictable formula, leaning on tired Nashville cliches in "Mexico" and "Average Joe." But "Fall" improves his batting average and should continue to extend, and maybe even expand, his long-running popularity.
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)