John Anderson 

Bigger Hands

Country legend John Anderson always reminded me of my charismatic uncle who shows up to Thanksgiving dinner with a different woman every year: sly, charming and grandma's favorite, even if he gave the kids fireworks on the DL. Bigger Hands delivers some of the charm and wit of past efforts but forgets the fireworks. It isn't all Anderson's fault. His unmistakable baritone drawl is strong as ever; it's the material that's weak.

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The album begins fine enough with "How Can I Be So Thirsty." Anderson's voice booms the instant-barroom-classic chorus, "How can I be so thirsty this mornin' after all I drank last night?" No doubt, John. But this being modern country he's apparently forced to lean on themes, not substance: the straight, the narrow, holes in hearts, cold coffee, hot beer, people gone and not coming back. Some tracks feature the pleasures of honky-tonkin', while others, like "What Used to Turn Me On," extol sobriety. "Shuttin' Detroit Down" won't let us forget the workin' man. They're all tired stories. It's a shame because in the past Anderson has brought us vivid, emotionally expressive classics like "Straight Tequlia Night" and "Seminole Wind." That said, there's always room at the table for this legend.

John Anderson plays the Wilma Thursday, June 24, at 8 PM. $27 plus fees.

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