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The Wrights: Down This Road
Buy! - (RCA/ACR)
The Wrights are the husband-and-wife duo of Adam and Shannon Wright. Their debut album is the first release on the new Nashville subsidiary ACR, which stands for Alan's Country Records. The Alan in question happens to be Adam Wright's uncle, Alan Jackson. While some might wonder if family ties are stronger than talent here, the Wrights previously showed they could write some damn good country songs by contributing two of the best on Jackson's last album, and judging by the results of their debut album, they're also pretty good at making their own records.

Down This Road shares the low-key, neo-traditional sensibility of Jackson, but they also go their own way in many respects. Adam's modest singing is respectable though not nearly as resonant as his uncle's. On the other hand, the evocative twang of Shannon's vocals is captivating, and their voices blend beautifully, with the duo's harmonies being one of the highlights of the album. And while country singers often turn to songs from other folks (or at least co-writers), the Wrights wrote every song here, with the results ranging from rock-solid to simply sublime country music.

Their songs are fleshed out by a laid-back country sound with lots of acoustic instrumentation, though the dominant instruments are Paul Franklin's gorgeous pedal steel and Pig Robbins' assured piano. Take the relaxed hard-country sound of Jackson's last album and combine it with the acoustic-steeped records of the neo-traditional duos of the '80s like the Judds and the O'Kanes, and you get pretty close to the sound of this charming, thoroughly country album. 5/6/2005 - Don Slack