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Doug Bruce - A Good Place
Review By: George Peden, CSO Staff Journalist

In the hard-edged world of country music, many labor. There are those who win the tip jar gigs, the show fairs and the out of town music festivals. Some, prompted by family and money, get to cut an album. Then, there are those who, as quickly as they arrive, fade. No, on the rough road to any sort of fame in Australian country music the same grit that made Toby, Keith, Alan and Kenny is needed – a measure of luck, a bag of talent, a mile of determination and an unshakeable passion. Even then, to make it in a genre that suffers from a lack of radio and a lack of mainstream interest that may not be enough.

But, a few have made it through.

There is room for others.

Former Texan and now an Aussie resident for five years, Doug Bruce is certainly a guy who has the qualities. Blessed with a strong and tried country voice, a tad Alan Jackson on some tracks, this former drummer and backing vocalist leaves you clearly decided -- the best music doesn’t always arrive on a major label.

The celebrated musician -- he has snagged enough local awards, New Talent nods and chart placements and Country Music Channel plays to grab more than second glances – is back with a follow up album to his 2008 release, All I Need. His new independent outing, A Good Place, is a pleaser sure to grab the ears of those who like smoky bars, love and loss, and the fit of toe-tapping, dancin’ fare blaring out of their CD player.

In a few words, this is a knockout release. I mean, this father of two young sons can sing in a voice that bends and shapes to country familiarities; he plays, and, as the liner notes share, he writes. Rather than a fashioned hat and an oversized belt buckle, the image here is humble, honest, caring and melodic. It’s country. Pure. Simple. Unpretentious. And, it works.

With an energetic lashing of steel, guitar, fiddle, piano and other country instrumentation, Bruce works easy across the album’s 13 tracks, for which he penned five.

The album jumps straight for the chute with the snappy “Good Place for Love”. Heart-on-the-sleeve emotions receive a keen vocal working, while the made for a Saturday jukebox “The Bed You Lied In”, another Bruce write, is a guaranteed crowd mover. To vary the mood and tempo, the emotive “Don’t Let Me Stay Too Long”, and the home-spun advice of “ Having What you Want”, “Man In The Mirror” and “Hey Mister” all fine tune an album that rounds out with the duet partnering on “ Close Enough” with emerging talent, Amber Joy Poulton.

In the hard-edged world of country music, many labor. Doug Bruce has been treading the boards for over 20 years. Now a constant and in-demand performer, he and his band have spent time touring the breadth of Australia, while firming up interest in the USA and Europe.

This album, finally, may spell pay dirt.

This latest CD echoes just what hard work, crafted writing and a voice honed for country music can deliver. And for Doug Bruce, it’s a good place to be.



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