My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Album Review: Trace Adkins – ‘Big Time’

Released in October 1997, Trace’s sophomore effort follows the same template of the first, offering up an 11-track selection of contemporary songs, while remaining more rooted in traditional country than most of his contemporaries at that time. Though he’s not particularly well known as a songwriter, Trace’s name appears among the songwriting credits on two tracks — the lead single “The Rest of Mine”, which is one of the finest singles of his career — and the album cut “Snowball in El Paso”. The former, co-written with Kenny Beard, is a beautiful wedding ballad that Trace performed at his own wedding. It peaked at #4. The album’s subsequent singles both faltered at radio, however, peaking outside the Top 10. “Lonely Won’t Leave Me Alone” made it as far as #11. Trace might have recovered from this setback had the label made a better choice for the third single. They went with the lyrically light title track, which they probably thought would make a fun spring/early summer release. However, it is one of the weaker tracks on the album. Radio programmers apparently agreed as it stalled at #27.

The whimsical “Took Her To The Moon” seems like it would have been a much better choice to send to radio. In this tale, Trace is the victim of his own success when he tries to impress his new love interest, only to have her move in with him and start running his life. He laments, “I took her to the moon and I can’t take her back.” It’s a shame that this one remained buried as an album cut.

The aformentioned “Snowball In El Paso”, which Trace co-wrote with Trey Bruce is another good tune, in which the narrator, having been left by his wife or girlfriend, remains in denial, listing the possessions she’s left behind as reasons why she can’t have actually left. This one was also strong enough to have been considered for a single release, but it was probably passed over because it is lyrically very similar to Tim McGraw’s “Can’t Really Be Gone” from a few years earlier. “Out Of My Dreams” shows is a very well done, understated ballad that serves as a reminder that Trace does have a vulnerable side — something we tend to forget at times thanks to monstrosities like “Honkytonk Badonkadonk”, “Ala-Freakin-Bama” and “Brown Chicken, Brown Cow”.

The album does have its share of filler tracks, namely the title track, the fiddle-led “See Jane Run” and the more rock-tinged “Twenty-four, Seven”; however, none of these tracks is unlistenable. In fact, all of them are quite good compared to some of the records Trace has released in more recent years.

The album closes on high note with a terrific version of the traditional spiritual/folk tune “Wayfaring Stranger”, which is probably my favorite version of the song after Emmylou Harris’ rendition.

Although Big Time’s singles may have underperformed on the charts, the album managed to earn platinum certification, matching the sales level of its predecessor Dreamin’ Out Loud. Because of his spotty track record in choosing quality material, I’ve learned to proceed with extreme caution before buying Trace’s albums. More often than not, I’ll download individual tracks instead of buying the complete album. Big Time, however, is one of his more solid efforts and is worth buying in its entirety. It is widely available at very reasonable prices, in both CD and digital form from vendors such as Amazon and iTunes.

Grade: A-

One response to “Album Review: Trace Adkins – ‘Big Time’

  1. Occasional Hope August 8, 2011 at 11:29 am

    I’ve always liked this album, particularly Out Of My Dreams, Wayfaring Stranger, and Took Her To The Moon.

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