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Artist: Garth Brooks
Label: Capitol 
Length: 12 Tracks

I thought Garth Brooks retired from music altogether, although being the kind and generous country star that he is, he wanted to give some early Christmas presents to fans (an unnecessary new CD and a handful of equally pointless TV specials). Indeed this innovator of blending country and rock and roll has run out of steam when it comes to creativity, and even hiring the most prominent songwriters in Nashville hasn't been able to spice up this batch of dullness. Like all of Brooks' albums, its broken down into two main styles, from what's intended to be rollicking, honky tonk laced bar songs, to pop laden power ballads free from old school country influence.

The southern fried rockers include duds like "Rodeo and Mexico," "Big Money," and Brooks' duet with George Jones "Beer Run." The duet is particularly pathetic, attempting to create the same vibe as "Friends in Low Places" or "Longneck Bottle," while lacking the same spicy punch and tongue in cheek humor that each of those hits had. Brooks also teams up with Trisha Yearwood (as if that's a fresh and innovative combination) for the raw sounding bluesy rocker "Squeeze Me In." The two are clearly best suited collaborating on love songs, like past gems "In Another's Eyes" and "Shameless." 

If only "Scarecrow's" ballads could reach half the glimmering heights of the two latter Yearwood tag teams or "The Dance," this project wouldn't be in all that bad of shape. Instead, the sappy "When You Come Back to Me Again" and "The Storm" wallow in worn out strings and keyboards along with Brooks' twangy, tear in my beer moans. 

Andy Argyrakis 3/10/2002



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