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POP MUSIC: ROCK, COUNTRY, R&B, RAP, LATIN, JAZZ | RECORD
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Strait's Roots Run Deep on 'Blue Clear Sky'

GEORGE STRAIT, "Blue Clear Sky", ** MCA/Nashville

April 21, 1996

Some artists shouldn't stretch. George Strait shouldn't even think about it.

As long as he sticks to his strengths, the veteran country star (who headlines the Pond of Anaheim on Saturday) turns in an amiably unpretentious, if emotionally unremarkable, set. Strait's significance was his reintroduction of traditional roots elements to a glitzy marketplace in the early '80s, and a solid stretch at the heart of "Blue Clear Sky" mines that rich vein.

"She Knows When You're on My Mind" and "King of the Mountain" are two classic-sounding weepers. The bouncy western swing of "I Ain't Never Seen No One Like You" recalls some of the recordings of one of its co-writers, Mark Chesnutt, and "I Can Still Make Cheyenne" finds a bit of a twist in the rodeo-junkie genre.

Revisiting familiar roads may not provide much in the way of revelation, but the alternatives Strait presents here aren't promising. As a John Michael Montgomery balladeer he's a lugubrious, lovesick pup, and as a Clint Black-style progressive country-popster he's merely undistinguished.--Richard Cromelin

*

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two (fair), three (good) and four (excellent).

*

*TimesLine 808-8463

To hear an excerpt from the singles reviewed, call TimesLine and press * and the artist's corresponding four-digit code. George Strait *5711

In 805 area code, call (818) 808-8463.

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