September 06, 1999 12:00 PM

Clay Walker (Giant)

Talk about rolling with a punch. Since he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1996, Walker has hardly broken stride. The Beaumont, Texas, native—who has recorded 10 No. 1 singles—has been philosophical about his affliction. “There are so many people who have so many worse things wrong with them,” he has said, “my little thing is like a scratch on the arm.”

Certainly this, his fifth studio album, displays no ill effects. His warm voice is still true and steady, and he is more energetic and musically upbeat than ever before. Walker and his new producer, Doug Johnson, have collected a set of 11 songs that display Walker’s wide-roaming range. “Woman Thing,” cowritten by Tracy Lawrence, is an infectious tune with a theme universal enough to make it a country standard, and “The Chain of Love” is a story song with a nice, do-unto-others moral. When Walker is not philosophizing, he swings into a party mood on the jaunty, Latin-flavored title tune.

Bottom Line: Looking at life from both sides now

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