Honky Tonk Boots

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Sammy’s occasionally tumultuous marriage to fellow singer Lorrie Morgan has earned more ink than his music lately. That may change with the surprising strength of his first new album in three years, Honky Tonk Boots.

Hitmaking producer Buddy Cannon (best known for his work with Kenny Chesney) is behind the boards for his first Sammy album since 1996’s Politics, Religion and Her, and the result is a thoroughly modern CD that’s tailored for today’s radio while simultaneously harking back to the singer’s early-1990s winning streak and seminal influences like George Jones. Sammy is at his best on bracing singalong numbers like the tongue-twisting first single, “Tennessee Girl,” the wry breakup tune “Leavin’ Made Easy” and the leering “Evangeline,” which sneaks in a sly tribute to Sammy’s native Louisiana. The ballads also make an impression, especially songwriter Tim Mensy’s simple, searing “One Step at a Time.”

A revival of Mel McDaniel’s “Baby’s Got Her Blue Jeans On” adds little to a song that should have been left back in 1985. That aside, Honky Tonk Boots is a convincing comeback that effectively reboots Sammy’s classic style—and maybe his career, too.

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