Review: Houser returns with radio-ready album

January 24, 2013 - 8:32 AM

Randy Houser, "How Country Feels" (Stoney Creek)

There's little coincidence that Randy Houser's new album, "How Country Feels," arrives just as the title track reaches No. 1 on the country radio charts.

The Mississippi singer earned his first chart-topper with the initial single from his most radio-friendly album. Stuffed with country soul-inflected mid-tempo arrangements that highlight Houser's rich voice, there's likely a few more hits among its 15 tracks.

He's sanded away much of the grit that marked his previous work and deploys a more traditional country sound on songs like "The Singer," ''Power of a Song" and "Like a Cowboy" that shows off his vocal versatility and a willingness to explore.

Just when it starts to feel like there's a little too much varnish, Houser closes the album with "Route 3 Box 250 D." It's easily his most powerful song, and one we hope gets played on the radio, too.

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Follow AP Music Writer Chris Talbott: http://twitter.com/Chris_Talbott .