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Jack Ingram - (Live) Wherever You Are 
By: Cheryl Harvey Hill, Sr. Staff Journalist

(Live) Wherever You Are starts out with a verbal introduction by Jack Ingram. I liked it. It was a nice touch and he comes across as a real personable guy. He explains a little about himself, where he's from, gives a little history on the venue where the bulk of the album was recorded and then introduces the first song; the title track. Although his music tends to lean a little to the left or right of traditional country music center, his lyrics are born from his first-hand Texas troubadour experiences and are right on target for a genre that has been refined through the ages by sawdust and honky-tonks along a stage coach trail. Despite releasing several albums in the past few years, two for his former label Sony's Lucky Dog, and amassing a loyal following of fans, he hasn't been able to produce a hit single. That may all change with his debut release for his muscle bound new label; Big Machine.

The title cut, one of the few tracks on this album that was recorded in a studio, has a contagious chorus that encourages you to sing along but the bulk of the album was recorded in, as Ingram refers to it in his intro, "the historic dance hall down in Gruene, Texas; the place where my musical heroes grew up and, guess what, so did I - in Gruene Hall." I, for one, love songs that I can sing along with after only hearing them once. "Wherever You Are" is one of those songs. Okay, okay ... I admit it. I did hit "replay" a couple times, ya know, just to get the rhythm right. Couldn't help it. It's a cool song.

The third track kicks off with an enthusiastic, and loud, audience welcome from an apparently packed Gruene Hall and it rocks and rolls from there on to the end of the last track. The title of the third song is "I Would" and it is a great introduction to Ingram's Beat Up Ford Band and how can you not love a band with a name like that? Without skipping a beat they go from song to song and they are definitely in tune with Ingram. The over all feel of this album is good and apparently it has already had a test run. It seems that Ingram recorded an album a few years back that he titled "Live at Gruene Hall: Happy, Happy," which he released on his own label. When Toby Keith and Scott Borchetta launched their new company, "Live ..." was one of the first albums they picked. They worked with Ingram to do some fine tuning, added some new tracks, deleted some of the old ones and, with faith and optimism, set sail their flagship release.

Ingram's voice isn't anything spectacular but there's something endearing about. Maybe it's the way it's worn around the edges; so much so that when he sings about loving and losing he sounds so utterly believable and sometimes so used up that you can feel it. There is something unique about his voice but I honestly have no idea what it is. I can say that he sounds different but I'm not exactly sure what is so different. Maybe it's in his delivery; yeah, maybe that's what it is. Whatever it is, it works. Maybe it's his heart. After all, he's been quoted as saying that he prefers "songs that give you chill bumps" and he says that old country songs do that to him and that he has been influenced by them. Or it might be the attitude; he has plenty of that. No doubt, it is a finely honed combination of all of these and he dishes it out expertly and effortlessly; using the music to manipulate your emotions. And he's certainly qualified since he has a degree in psychology from Southern Methodist University.

One thing for sure, he's paid his dues. He has been working towards where he is now, for quite some time and he has created his own historical landmark trail between Nashville and Gruene, Texas. No matter what went down, he remained firmly grounded in Texas. He has a strong sense of who he is and he has remained loyal to his roots. It is to his credit that he never felt the need to conform to a label vision of what he should be and staying true to himself is finally paying dividends and gotten him with a label who appreciates his evolution and isn't asking him to change. Only time will tell if country music fans will reward him for his persistence.

In addition to the title cut, other stand out tracks for me were "Goodnight Moon," a nice ballad with a lot of heart, "Never Knocked Me Down" which just plain rocks and the final track, "Love You" with its clever word play and rollicking, rock on, instrumental riffs which crescendos to an abrupt finish that will leave you wanting more.

(Live) Wherever You Are song list:

To purchase the CD online click on the album cover.

1. Wherever You Are 
2. I Would 
3. How Many Days 
4. Work This Out 
5. One Thing 
6. Only Daddy Thatíll Walk the Line 
7. Biloxi
8. Mustang Burn 
9. Happy Happy (country country) 
10. Barbie Doll 
11. Goodnight Moon 
12. Never Knocked Me 
13. Love You

Related Links:
www.JackIngram.net - Official Website

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