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POP MUSIC | Record Rack

** TIM McGRAW, "Set This Circus Down," Curb

April 22, 2001|RANDY LEWIS

The money track here isn't the title tune but the first single, "Grown Men Don't Cry." Built on three tear-jerker scenarios, it presents a presumably macho guy giving permission to his presumably macho audience to express their emotions.

The masculine vulnerability that's become McGraw's stock-in-trade over the course of six albums owes less to the by-the-numbers songs he chooses than to a nasal tenor that makes him sound ever on the verge of breaking down emotionally.

In this album, he courts rock-leaning country fans at several points. "Let Me Love You" uses a hint of Spanish flavor in a limp stab at Santana-ish country rock. "Forget About Us" is a B-grade Springsteen rock ballad (circa "The River") written by Mark Collie, but even that has flashes of revealing detail that puts it a cut above most of these songs.

In "Take Me Away From Here," he sings "make me a different man ... show me that there's something more." It's intended as a plea to a lover, but it's hard not to apply it to his own career as well. Musician, heal thyself.

*

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent). The albums are due in stores Tuesday.

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