Private Radio
by Billy Bob Thornton, rock/country (2001)
Lost Highway, ASIN B00006373E

Marty Stuart actually escapes this novelty record with his dignity intact. Believe it or not, Billy Bob Thornton, better known as the Sexy Naked Man in Monster's Ball and Mr Angelina Jolie, has a nice, even sexy Arkansas twang and he can actually carry a tune. He is no Jennifer Autonote Lopez, that's for sure.

Although he does cheat - most of the tracks here have him talking or cooing instead of yodelling like a true melodramatic country whiner. His songs are often a darker, even more Gothic take on the country music melodrama. On Forever, he is on the phone talking to his girlie and he's telling her he's on the way home. "Hey, you remember them drawers you left in the car/Yeah, the ones with the pink feathers around the edge/Now, don't you tell a soul but I got 'em on right now/And they're makin' me think about you/Yeah, I was thinkin' about you when the law/Pulled me over... But I don't think he's ever seen a man wearin' pink panties/And under the influence of Merle Haggard". Oh, really.

There's a nine-minute track of him as a boy spying on Daddy and a hooker. I kid you not - it's Beauty At The Backdoor, and no, don't ask me what that title means. There are other dark and even violent pieces (Dark And Mad - duh), celebration of tarts (the very good Walk Of Shame), and a lovely piece to his Missus Macabre, Angelina.

I wouldn't go as far as to say Thornton is a brilliant singer. But his voice has a majestic twang to it, and I just can't stop listening. The production is top notch, and many of the songs here have a great, dark, and moody rock/country air to them. At the end of day, this album is interesting and listenable, and bonus points for Thornton for keeping to his roots instead of doing a male Shania Twain. Even if this is a self-indulgent exercise of narcissism - and I half-suspect it is - at least Thornton sounds sincere, and yes, even good to the eardrums while he's at it. Pink feathered panties, huh?

Rating: 82

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