Michael Lee Austin – Labor Pains / 2005 Alive! / 12 Tracks / http://www.michaelleeaustin.com / http://www.aliverecords.com / Reviewed 06 December 2005
There is no denying that one can tell exactly how Michael Lee Austin is going to sound after looking at the front cover of eir CD “Labor Pains”. The disc starts off with the title track, a honky-tonk type of song that will get individuals into lines, all ready for dancing in just the shortest bit of time. Austin’s vocals are easily the equivalent of a Travis Tritt or an Alan Jackson, and the range of different sounds (which also incorporate a Jazzy horn into the mix) groom the track, allowing it easy access to the pop charts.
Each of the tracks on “Labor Pains” comes with an infectious brand of pop that would put the current group of teen starlets to shame; individuals with a six-pack in their hand would be proud to listen to this, however. The tracks on “Labor Pains” are short enough that Austin can get away with some repetition that normally wouldn’t fly in the context of a longer track. This gives the bulk of the tracks on the disc a very familiar sound that will allow listeners to sing along after listening to the disc only a few times. While the style of music that Austin comes up with for “Labor Pains” may not be what most country artists are striving for in the new millennium, there is a strong current of country music that fits in perfectly; this is similar to the style of music that one heard on TNN or CMT back in 1995. The style is still frersh, however and Austin is one of the few performers who still can succeed in this style (with Brooks and Dunn being the only other act easily remembered that does). Even when Austin moves into the slower stuff (as is eir want during “There Ain’t A Horse In Texas”), individuals listen intently; the style does change a little bit during tracks like this until Austin is closer to Pat Green than anything.
The incorporation of a Spanish style to “See You in Tijuana” is another of the disc’s excursions into slower territory, and one has to wonder if there might not be more success in mixing speeds and sounds up a little more on “Labor Pains”. Still, “Labor Pains” is a fun country album that always has its fans in mind; here’s to hoping Austin keeps working on these little slices of life.
Top Tracks: Labor Pains, Cold Window Pane