He's Ba-a-a-ack

Garth Brooks

By Rob Greenwell

How can an artist go away for four years and then try to come back with an album? What makes him think that he can be successful in the age of "I don't have an attention span of more than five minutes, let alone four years."? One should have - let us say - a certain amount of "fortitude" to try and pull such a thing off.

As it happens, Garth Brooks is such a man, having made a career out of pushing the bar with more "fortitude" than any other artist. He has done it not once but now for a second time with his latest release, Scarecrow.

What makes this guy so successful? It certainly not his looks. would rank somewhere in the middle of the `male lookers' pack on anybody's poll. Is it his vocal ability? He most assuredly doesn't have one of the best voices in Nashville. What about songwriting ability or, more to the point, an ability to find good songs? I'll give you that one - Brooks has an amazing knack for finding great songs with substance, and perhaps the ability to write great tunes.

Nevertheless, he's in the middle of the Nashville pack, with one notable exception: his charisma. He clearly went through the line several times when they were giving this out. It's his charisma that makes him the leader of the new generation of country music, and it will take him and them into the new era of the business.

Scarecrow" (from the "Wizard of Oz" movie), might be the name of the album, but it should be rightfully called "Cool Hand Luke." The twelve-song project includes, oddly enough, a song that has already been made public: "When You Come Back to Me Again," written for the movie "Frequency." It appeared in the movie, though not on the soundtrack but received so much attention that it made it on the album.

The kick-off tune, "Why Ain't I Running," could well be an explanation of why he's back: in it, a guy asks himself why he doesn't start running away from this love as he has every other one in his life. Brooks answers that question with the next two tunes: "Beer Run" and "Wrapped Up in You," the two songs that have had the most popularity to date. "Beer Run" is a rockin' country tune that will light up those dance floors in every honky tonk across the country. The same goes for "Wrapped Up in You" the current single. It would appear that Garth understands his fan base pretty well.

The album has several standard-issue Brooks ballads, including "The Storm," "Thicker than Blood," "Mr. Midnight" and "Pushing up Daisies." Good lyrics, good melodies, and one or the other will make the top of the charts. He also includes another duet with Trisha Yearwood, but instead of a ballad, it's an up-tempo tune, "Squeeze Me In," penned by rocker Delbert McClinton and Gary Nicholson. "Rodeo or Mexico," a visually interesting ditty about a cowboy's choice between a rodeo and a party trip to Mexico that ends with a broken heart, is the candidate for the firing up the dance clubs.

Garth has accomplished pretty much everything there is to accomplish in this business. The fans still love him for his "realness," and that is why he is able to do this for the second time.