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Artists :: B :: Garth Brooks :: Fresh Horses :: Staff Review

Garth Brooks is rumored to have expressed disappointment when Fresh Horses wasn’t received as well as anticipated. He may or may not have said anything on the subject, but the claim is certainly credible. Fresh Horses sold poorly compared to its immediate and much-loved predecessor, No Fences, but it contained some truly fantastic music.

The album begins with a bang as Garth belts out “The Old Stuff,” a rambunctious look at the exhilarating tours he and his band members have enjoyed over the years. The song feels like it was written first for the artist and with fans a secondary consideration, yet it’s so full of energy that it remains one of the most enjoyable tracks on the album in spite of it.

From there, Garth moves on to “Cowboys And Angels,” which examines a relationship between a hell-bent partier and the angelic woman in his life. It feels like one of the purest Country songs on the album, a pleasant reminder of former Garth music in the face of an album that so often represents an obvious turn toward a newer Country sound.

That’s half the album: pleasing reminders of pure country in the form of singles like “She’s Every Woman” and “The Change” (which channels a Garth not far from a “We Shall Be Free” sort of mindset). “It’s Midnight Cinderella” is also a nice song as it dances through quick fiddle work and a stuttering chorus that sounds like it came straight from a fairy godmother.

Yet for every moment where the listener might revel in the familiar sound of Garth going through his motions in high style, there are songs like “The Fever.” It’s a remake of the Aerosmith tune, with lyrics revised so the drugs are replaced by the thrill of the rodeo. Garth got it right the first time, though, with his own song on the topic. This new version is obnoxiously fast-paced (more than even its source material) but doesn’t really accomplish much outside the headache it might induce among those who like more traditional sound.

Not all of Garth’s new attempts fail, though. Most of them don't even come close. When he ends the album with “Ireland,” a song that examines the Irish civil war from the perspective of a few soldiers fighting a force much larger than themselves, he captures the atmosphere and the thrill of battle, the joy that comes from fighting a lost cause and knowing you’ll fail but feeling proud to have left a mark. That’s what Garth has done with Fresh Horses. He’s left a definite mark and created an album that is every bit as much fun to listen to in the new millennium as it was the former one. No matter what you may have heard, this one is required listening for Garth addicts everywhere.

Rating: 9/10
Reviewer: jasonventer
Reviewed: December 24, 2006

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