Hard Workin' Man

Brooks & Dunn

Arista Records, 1993


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


I'm convinced that beneath the country skins of Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn beat hearts with more than their share of rock and roll veins.

I suspected as much when I bought their album Borderline on the strength of the song "My Maria". Now, after listening to their 1993 release Hard Workin' Man (only about two years after I first bought the tape), I'm even more certain.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Brooks & Dunn have always known how to put a good groove to a country song, making it a cut that could find fans in the rock world. The title track reminds me of Travis Tritt; it's a song that glorifies the blue-collar worker and the life he chooses to live. It's a pleasant enough little number that is sure to entertain.

The crossover occurs at the halfway point of Hard Workin' Man. Cuts like "Rock My World (Little Country Girl)" and "That Ain't No Way To Go" are not pure country songs in the truest definition of the word. Instead, Brooks & Dunn draw on many different musical influences for these numbers, influences that make the songs stand out that much more for the better. "That Ain't No Way To Go" is a solid ballad that almost could fit into an AOR format.

However, their roots are most definitely in country - and surprisingly, this is where the music can be hit or miss. Cuts like "Mexican Minute" and "We'll Burn That Bridge" are solid enough efforts, but by the end of the album, on cuts like "Our Time Is Coming," the formula begins to wear a little thin. And as challenging as "Texas Women (Don't Stay Lonely Long)" is time-signature wise, it does not rank among the best work of the duo.

The saving grace of Hard Workin' Man is that it's still a fun album to listen to, and is one that could easily draw in someone who is not a big lover of country music. While some diehard country music afficionados might pooh-pooh this nouveau country, I say, welcome it with open arms. If it attracts a new audience to your style of music, who cares how they did it (unless, of course, Vanilla Ice chooses to don a set of chaps and hit the mechanical bull).

Hard Workin' Man is the traditional pleasing fare that Brooks & Dunn have been churning out for years - and if you like any of their works, this album is not going to disappoint you at all.

Rating: B

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© 1998 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Arista Records, and is used for informational purposes only.