Mike Ireland opts to Try Again on his first country album since his great 1998 effort, and the results are similarly top-notch.

Mike Ireland opts to Try Again on his first country album since his great 1998 effort, and the results are similarly top-notch. Ireland, who wrote all 12 cuts, has a '70s-hued country thing going on here. His earnest, often heartwrenching tenor perfectly captures the can't-go-home-again irony of "Welcome Back" and the self-pity of "Right Back Where I Started." Strings, classic background vocals, and sterling musicianship accentuate the sarcasm of "Mr. Rain" and blue mood of "Tonight," while "Sweet Sweetheart" is a steel-laden shuffle with a rare upbeat tone. Subtle ballads like "I'd Like To" and "Love's the Hardest Thing to Do" effectively showcase Ireland's emotive vocal. "Life Has Its Little Ups and Downs" is a sly, syncopated treasure, and the set's closer, "Let Me Hold You," is pure and simple. Produced to perfection and performed with a true love for the genre, Ireland has concocted a classic. Racked by Redeye.—RW

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