Alabama Southern Drawl =2015- (BMG)

Reviewed by Michael Rampa

With all the belly aching about country music not staying true to its roots, maybe instead of a new entry into the landscape, it is time for a re-entry. Many hoped that Alabama’s latest, “Southern Drawl” would be the cure to what ails the traditionalists. But the iconic band tried to walk a very fine line on its first release since 2001’s “When It All Goes South.”

Back in their Eighties heyday, the group put the country rock sound on the map. Over the past three decades, country rock has morphed into flashy stadium shows and a more pop laced sound. And with few exceptions, that’s what we get here.

In an effort to attract a new generation of fans while staying relevant to their core demographic, Randy Owens, Teddy Gentry and Jeff Cook put the polish on a generous 13-song collection.

The rowdy title track starts off with a booming bass drum and every bro country cliché you can think of with the line:

“We drive trucks, we drink beer / We shoot whiskey / We hunt deer”

Ditto on “Hillbilly Wins The Lotto Money” while “American Farmer” is a patriotic blue collar ode straight out of Toby Keith’s playbook.

The traditional country comes out thanks to Allison Krauss’ silky vocals and skillful fiddle on “Come Find Me.” Owen’s distinctive baritone is most evident on the lead single, “Wasn’t Through Loving You Yet.” Elsewhere, his voice seems to get lost inside the band’s skillful harmonies.

Taylor Swift said of her transition from country to pop, “If you chase two rabbits, you’ll lose them both.” That’s kind of what happened here.