Pat Green

Plenty of people outside the country-music industry think the genre pretty much begins and ends with big stars — the Keiths, the Faiths and so on. But just beneath the glitzy surface, a gaggle of lesser-knowns are slugging it out in hopes of reaching the next level, and only the toughest survive. Which brings us to Pat Green, whose deliberate climb to minor notoriety is echoed in his no-frills music. On albums such as 2006's Cannonball, Green uses his brawny baritone to good effect throughout songs that merge Americana elements with nods to other musical forms. Take "Feels Just Like It Should," for instance, whose lyrics salute the Boss and "Born to Run." If there's a problem with the disc, it's the material's steadiness: Even the most accessible tunes, such as "Finder's Keepers," a duet with Sara Evans, are easier to like than to love. That's just as well, though, since Green's forte is grit, not glamour.


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