Vince Gill

What could possibly be better than sitting around the family hearth with a crackling fire and the Good Book, snatching deep and meaningful glances over Deuteronomy with uber-Christian Amy Grant? Maybe the little vixen just darned your socks or polished your Sunday snakeskins. Or fetched you a hot mug of cocoa. (Heck, this is your fantasy; if it's a cool longneck you want, then, hellraiser, you deserve it.) For country personality Vince Gill, a domestic reality with new collaborator/life partner Grant seems nothing short of heaven-sent -- or so his latest batch of gag syrup would have us believe.

Let's Make Sure We Kiss Goodbye has the sort of glissando-dredged sound you'd imagine the recently widowed Ned Flanders of The Simpsons sniffling over -- or, better yet, slow dancing to, alone, before a grueling night of insomnia and Scripture. It's downright creepy that you're likely to empathize more with Mr. "Okalee Dokalee" -- a soulless series of hand-drawn lines and circles -- than with Gill, a flesh-and-blood suburban cowpoke whose stampeded heartstrings all but drip with the sweetest excess of newfound looooove. In Flanders's lonely, aching mind -- use your imagination now -- the smooth-croonin' Gill must seem like "The Luckiest Guy in the World," just one of many insufferable ballads on this overly romantic piece of garbage. "We watch old movies and cry at the endings/And get lost in each other's eyes/We hold hands when we're walking/And spend all night talking /And make looooove as the suuuuuun starts to riiise."

The golden Okie still has a voice pure as rainwater, pardner, and his soft-focus Hallmark sentiments sure won't turn your mood ring black; these qualities have helped the onetime frontman for Pure Prairie League win more Grammys than any other singer in Nashville history -- including Garth. But if mainstream buckle-bunnies and weekend wranglers keep on pretending that music like this is country, then they probably deserve as much garbage as they can stomach. And Nashville knows it. They'd put Shania in a dog collar if it guaranteed crossover appeal and more sales. Or dress up Alan Jackson in a sideways cap and clock. Fortunately for industry bean counters (who, like tax auditors, must look longingly at other planets), scoutmaster Grant is already two-steppin' with the Lord -- something that automatically doubles the fan base for her and Gillers. Their disc is family values for the highest-bidding simpleton. It's make-believe charity like Feed the Children or Santa's Cops. And if you fall for it, buckaroo, may eternity enlighten you in a stuck and static-filled elevator somewhere between hell and Hank Williams.


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