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Junior Brown, "Guit With It"; Curb

January 06, 1994|RANDY LEWIS

This singer-songwriter-guitarist from Austin is two-thirds of a real find. With a booming bass-baritone that recalls the likes of Johnny Cash and Tennessee Ernie Ford and an extraordinary facility on the "guit-steel," his own double-necked hybrid of an electric guitar and a lap steel, Brown creates an instantly definable presence on his major-label debut album.

In the best of its dozen songs--10 of which Brown wrote--he sings with the authority of country music's founding fathers. The opening track is one of those highlights; it sounds like the best song Hank Thompson never wrote. "Doin' What Comes Easy to a Fool" sounds like a lost classic from the '40s time-warped to the '90s.

Its chorus is as cleverly crafted as it is emotionally hard-hitting: "I would rather be lonesome / Than spend another day with you / Leavin' you is easy / 'Cause lovin' you was cruel / So I'm doin' what comes easy to a fool."

In other songs, however, Brown's writing lacks the consistency he exhibits in vocals so woody that owls could nest in them, and instrumental virtuosity so imposing that it's hard to believe it's just one man at work.

Still, when everything comes together as it does more often than not, Brown establishes the very real prospect that he may be may be just an album or two away from being a Triple Crown winner.

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