Friday Night in Dixie

Rhett Akins seemed to sink without a ripple after country's wave crested, and he resurfaces here on Audium's swelling roster with an edgier style that seems to better serve his skills.

Rhett Akins seemed to sink without a ripple after country's wave crested, and he resurfaces here on Audium's swelling roster with an edgier style that seems to better serve his skills. It's still mostly lightweight stuff, particularly early on. From the by-the-numbers bravado of "Highway Sunrise" and the silly "She Was" to the poppish romance of "That Girl" and overwrought ballad "In Your Love," Akins often seems content to tread previously plowed fields. Things toughen up considerably about halfway through the record with such songs as "You Rock Me Baby," the likable "Guess I Must Be Livin' Right," the Stones-ish "Trouble With a Woman," and thumpin' redneck manifestos like "Where the Blacktop Ends" and the title cut. It's here that Akins definitely finds his groove, and he keeps it through nicely delivered ballads "Livin' Not Lovin' You" and "I Wonder What You're Doing Tonight." It's obvious here what Akins is more comfortable with; why not stick with it?—RW
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