My Kind of Country

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

Album Review – Tracy Lawrence – ‘The Coast Is Clear’

CoastisclearTracy Lawrence continued with his usual team of Flip Anderson and Don Cook when he entered the studio to record his fifth album The Coast Is Clear, released in early 1997. Sans his trademark mustache and mullet, Lawrence updated his sound to fit the changing tides at radio with varying results.

Lead single “Better Man, Better Off” was Lawrence’s most progressive to date with muscular guitars and crashing drums framing his twangy vocal. The results paid off, with the track just missing the top of the charts. Second single “How A Cowgirl Says Goodbye” hit #4 and remains one of my favorite of his songs to date. Both, though, are equally excellent.

The next three singles didn’t fare as well and were the first of Lawrence’s career to miss the top fifteen. The title track, an effecting yet boring traditional ballad, peaked at #26. Somewhat dated (would’ve worked better in 1995) mid-tempo rocker “One Step Ahead of the Storm” became Lawrence’s first single not to chart, and excellent final single “While You Sleep” petered out at #46.

“Any Minute Now” is an excellent uptempo number, and the kind of song that hits my country music sweet spot. I also enjoy “Hit The Ground Crawlin,’” a mid-tempo honky-tonker and above average drinking song. The sinister vibe and excellent use of fiddle elevate “As Lonesome As It Gets” while “In A Moment of Weakness” works thanks to its tasteful traditional production and Lawrence’s beautifully confident vocal. The only song I didn’t care for was “Livin’ In Black and White,” an island theme number complete with steel drums and a somewhat clichéd lyric.

As a whole The Coast Is Clear didn’t do enough to match the updated sound of “Better Man, Better Off” so while it’s an enjoyable listen, it isn’t the ripe radio fodder Lawrence needed to keep his career afloat. His voice also sounds terribly nasally throughout, which dampens my enjoyment of the project, but at least the material is very, very good.

Grade: B 

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