Chrome by Trace Adkins

Being a great singer requires a certain amount of acting talent – you have to get inside the characters in a song and convince the listener that what’s happening is real. From the sounds of Chrome, Trace Adkins has become a world-class actor.

For example, on the title track of his fourth album he’s a gearhead coping with a girlfriend so taken with his fancy red Chevelle, big truck and muscular motorcycle she wants to drive them herself. His deep-as-a-well baritone works perfectly against the song’s frisky groove.

Trace is also convincing as a world-weary fella burned out on Los Angeles, making “I’m Goin’ Back” clever without being snide. In a more upbeat mood, he deftly rides the loping melody of the cheerfully upbeat “Thankful Man” and hook-filled “Give Me You.”

But Trace has always known his way around an emotional ballad, and proves it again here. His expressive voice is especially powerful on the hit “I’m Tryin’,” the sad saga of a put-upon single dad. He’s in debt in another way as the emotionally challenged lover facing life without a long-suffering partner in “I’m Payin’ For It Now.”

On the strength of Chrome, Trace Adkins could finally become a superstar – a role to which he seems well-suited.

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Other performers include Rodney Crowell, Patty Griffin and Jason Isbell.