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X by Trace Adkins

Because he’s primarily an interpreter rather than a songwriter, Trace Adkins’ albums rise and fall on the strength of the material—and it’s tough to find songs that his booming baritone won’t overwhelm. X finds Trace taking on one of the strongest sets of songs that he’s yet recorded, outstanding tunes that showcase his serious and silly sides in equally effective ways. But X is at its best on the ballads—not just the uplifting single “Muddy Water,” but the quietly devastating “Sometimes a Man Takes a Drink” and especially the mournful benediction for fallen soldiers throughout the ages, “Til the Last Shot’s Fired.”

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