Trace Adkins appeared to be on the fast track to superstardom when he bowed with Dreamin' Out Loud in 1996, but for whatever reason, his ascent stalled with successive releases.

Trace Adkins appeared to be on the fast track to superstardom when he bowed with Dreamin' Out Loud in 1996, but for whatever reason, his ascent stalled with successive releases. Chrome, though, may well be the tonic needed to reinvigorate Adkins' career. It's a strong, varied collection that offers plenty of interesting sonics, along with confident vocals from Adkins. An imposing presence physically and vocally, Adkins is as adept with piano-based sensitive fare like "Help Me Understand" as he is with the jangly guitars and thumping bottom that propel the blue-collar anthem "Thankful Man." The title cut is another example of what appears to be a worrisome Nashville trend: country rap. Elsewhere, Adkins' world-weary stoicism and creative production make "I'm Tryin' " a killer track; Adkins' own prowess fortifies the rolling "And There Was You." Often fearless and ambitious without sacrificing commercial viability, Adkins may well find precious metal in Chrome.—RW

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