Uncle Kracker, 'Seventy Two & Sunny' (Lava)

6
Seventy Two and Sunny
Critical Mass
Label: Lava

by Chuck Klosterman

Uncle Kracker is a rock artist who makes country music. This is not terribly uncommon, but there's something interesting about the way Mr. Kracker makes the rock-to-country transformation: None of the tracks on Seventy Two & Sunny remotely resemble "country rock." They all sound like pop songs (there are no waltzes or fiddle reveries or twang-infused references to rodeo clowns), yet they all feel like country songs. The result is a better-than-decent album that will appeal to those who don't listen to music with sociology in mind, which is probably 90 percent of America.

Part of what makes Kracker compelling is his maniacal obsession with hit making. It's too bad this dude wasn't born in the late19th century, because he would have loved working on Tin Pan Alley.Hit singles are the only songs he has any interest in creating.Even the boring songs on Seventy Two & Sunny could reasonably exist on the radio, and most of the album follows the formula he perfected on the flawless 2001 chart-topper "Follow Me"(i.e., one sweeping hook, stupid yet charming lyrics, no dissonance allowed). The songwriting is archetypal and casual, a Sublime-like,laid-back buskerism mixed with a less aggressive version of the"outlaw country" his benefactor Kid Rock aspires to record. The best example is "Songs About Me, Songs About You," where Kracker brags that he's written about everything from money to booze, and the only reason he hasn't had a Top 10 smash about regret is that he hasn't gotten around to it.

Somehow, Uncle Kracker has come to the conclusion that fake country music is the only authentic art remaining in America. "Last Night Again"--a duet with shirtless country star Kenny Chesney--makes me want to purchase Miller High Life even though it's not in a beer commercial (yet). You'd have to work pretty hard not to like these songs, though I'm sure some people will try. I like his Tone-Loc-esque voice, and I like most of these songs. You could do a lot worse.

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