Friday, January 15, 2010

Review: Sammy Sadler - Heart Shaped Like Texas

Sammy Sadler - Heart Shaped Like Texas
(E1 Records)

There’s no good reason really why Sammy Sadler shouldn’t make it big in Nashville. His latest disc, Heart Shaped Like Texas, provides a fine showcase for his warm country tenor and his nice way with melodies. This disc also moves along smoothly through a strong mix of hooky country rockers and quieter ballads.
However, it doesn’t all add up to a memorable album. While solidly done, the disc lacks the distinctive execution or material to make it rise above being more than agreeable but average country music – a nice listen but nothing truly exciting.
Not that there aren’t some strong moments. “Heart Like Texas” is a color Lone Star state love ode about a cowgirl whose favorite song is “Amarillo By Morning.” Love songs like “Trying To Get The Girl” and “I Wanna Be Loved By You” are hooky country rock numbers that please the ear. “Thinking About Mexico” has a pleasant South-of-the-Border flavor while “That Ole Gravel Road” is a lively small town tale. Sometimes Sadler gets too heavy-handed, either with this sentimentality (“No Place To Land”) and spirituality (“John 3:16”).
This tendency also surfaces in the closing number “Thank God,” which pulls at the heartstrings a bit too hard. This is somewhat unfortunate because this tune draws on a tragic episode in Sadler’s life when he was shot (and his friend was killed) on Nashville’s Music Row. While it’s a poignant, often powerful song, the melodramatic use of background singers tends to underline the emotions a bit too much. This song also is the only one that Sadler had a hand in writing, which might add to the album’s rather generic feel.
So while Sadler the singer demonstrates that he has the talent to perform with the big boys, this disc suffers from a lack of big league material. As a result, Sadler remains a promising, talented performer who knows how to deliver a song but hasn’t yet delivered a thoroughly compelling album.