July 12, 2004 12:00 PM

Horse of a Different Color

For better and, unfortunately, for worse, Big Kenny (real name Kenny Alphin) and John Rich are not your usual country bucks. On Horse of a Different Color, this duo’s debut CD, they even indulge, misguidedly, in rap on the rockish “Rollin’ (The Ballad of Big & Rich).” While they generally perform with a self-deprecating wit, they also occasionally succumb to a crass approach on tunes like the tasteless “Kick My A—” (“Just because I kiss the prettiest girls and I drive my truck too fast/ Why does every body want to kick my a—”). And they’re much more convincing when they compare themselves to John Wayne on the standout “Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)” than when they sing, “I’m a cowboy Stevie Wonder” on the jaunty “Real World.” Despite these mixed results, Kenny, a veteran Nashville songwriter, and Rich, a former Lonestar member, make for an intriguing duo. And their backup band includes vital contributions from Adam Shoenfeld, who plays a vigorous, rock-infused electric guitar, and Mike Johnson on steel guitar. It’s fun to hear musicians who cross genre lines so zestfully.

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