Travis Tritt (Warner Bros. 45048)
Garth Brooks may represent the commercial future of country music, but if you want to hear where the music itself is going, listen to Travis Tritt's new album, "T-R-O-U-B-L-E." Like many of the genre's younger generation, Tritt's roots include a lot of Southern rock, something that comes through loud and clear on tunes like the boogie-driven "Blue Collar Man" or his searing cover of Buddy Guy's "Leave My Girl Alone." But Tritt also has a sentimental side, and it's his ability to seem as believable singing sad songs like "Can I Trust You With My Heart" as when he's rocking out that makes "T-R-O-U-B-L-E" a winner no matter how you spell it.
KEEP IT GOIN' ON
Hi-Five (Jive 41474)
There's nothing hard to get about the appeal of Hi-Five's current single, "Hard to Get"; between the crisp, new-jack groove and the lush, old-style vocal harmonies, it's clear that the group understands what it takes to cook up a contemporary R&B hit. So you might think that merely repeating the formula would be enough to make the rest of "Keep It Goin' On" just as enjoyable as the hit. Unfortunately, you'd be just as wrong as Hi-Five is. Why? Some of it has to do with the fact that, despite their ensemble polish, these five lack the vocal versatility necessary to stretch a simple approach to album-length. But mostly it's a matter of thematic redundancy -- meaning that by the sixth or seventh sweetly harmonized broken heart song, you'll be wondering if your stereo got stuck on the repeat cycle.