June 05, 2000 12:00 PM

Clay Davidson (Virgin)

A rural Virginian with a husky voice reminiscent of John Michael Montgomery and the look of a Tennessee Titans linebacker, Clay Davidson, 29, radiates an easygoing, masculine appeal.

In his debut album, Davidson—abetted nicely by producers Scott Hendricks and Jude Cole—displays a shrewd ear for appropriate songs, especially “Plain Ol’ Pain” by Tim Nichols and Jimmy Stewart, “Doghouse Rights” by Davidson and Cole and the memorable saloon tune “We’re All Here” by Davidson, his wife, Frances, and Mark Marchetti. The title tune, by Deanna Bryant, Liz Hengber and Rivers Rutherford, is a poignant love song that has been riding high on the country singles chart for months.

The versatile Cole, on electric guitar, joins a tight backup band that also includes steel guitarist Steve Hinson and drummer Greg Morrow. The only thing missing is a duet or two with a compatible country belle like Mandy Barnett, Chely Wright or Patty Loveless.

Bottom Line: This good ol’ boy’s a good new singer

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