My Kind of Country

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

Album Review: Tracy Lawrence – ‘Alibis’

zalibisFollowing his platinum-selling debut that spawned four Top 10 singles, Tracy Lawrence released Alibis, which teamed him up once again with producer James Stroud. They sought to avoid the dreaded sophomore slump and build upon the success of Sticks and Stones. By any measurement, they succeeded in spades; Alibis sold more than two million copies and produced four #1 singles. Like its predecessor, Alibis is traditional country from start to finish, playing to the strengths of Tracy’s seasoned-beyond-its-years baritone.
The first single to be sent to radio was the title track “Alibis”, a country waltz written by Randy Boudreaux, which reached the top of the charts in March of 1993. It is my favorite of all of Lawrence’s singles and is a perfect example of the type of song I miss from today’s country radio playlists. Only three months later, Tracy was back at the top of the charts with “Can’t Break It To My Heart”, one of four songs from Alibis that he co-wrote. Like clockwork, he was in the #1 spot again in September with another of his co-writes, the honky-tonker “My Second Home”. “If The Good Die Young”, the album’s most contemporary track (and my least favorite), took a little longer to top the charts, reaching #1 in late January 1994.

It’s interesting to note that none of the four hit singles was a ballad. It certainly wasn’t due to a lack of strong ballads — “We Don’t Love Here Anymore”, “Don’t Talk To Me That Way” and the masterpiece “It Only Takes One Bar (To Make A Prison)” (another Lawrence co-write with Kenny Beard and Paul Nelson) – all had potential, but Atlantic seemed to be taking no chances and giving radio what it wanted. This play-it-safe approach is arguably the album’s biggest flaw. The album’s material is mostly top-notch, though there are a few weak cuts: “I Threw The Rest Away”, “Cryin’ Ain’t Dyin’” and the “If The Good Die Young” (its #1 status notwithstanding). However, there aren’t any artistic stretches that would have helped differentiate Alibis from Sticks and Stones, though it is difficult to fault Lawrence and Stroud too much for wanting to stick with a winning formula.

Although it outsold its predecessor, I don’t rate Alibis quite as highly as the stellar Sticks and Stones, but it is still a very fine album that holds up well twenty years after its release. It’s worth picking up a cheap copy if you are only familiar with the album’s singles; since there is a lot more to the album than the radio hits tend to suggest.

Grade: A

One response to “Album Review: Tracy Lawrence – ‘Alibis’

  1. Occasional Hope September 6, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    An excellent album.

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