Big & Rich

Horse of a Different Color
(Warner Bros. Nashville)

Last year the Georgia-based rapper Bubba Sparxxx made an underappreciated record called Deliverance that presented a bracing vision of hip-hop told from the perspective of a small-town country bumpkin. This year the Nashville duo Big & Rich is flipping that coin, playing country music from the POV of slick Music City urbanites. Horse of a Different Color, its debut, is (as one song suggests) a "Wild West Show" of blow-dried electric-guitar twang, knot-tight harmonic vocals and lively, loose-limbed rhythms that juice boisterous backwoods bounce with mild big-city funk. The most immediate tracks here -- "Rollin' (The Ballad of Big & Rich)" and the country-chart hit "Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)" -- constitute a self-conscious effort toward "country music without prejudice": In the former, the duo's pal Cowboy Troy does a spirited rap about "fresh potato salad"; in the latter, they're "bling-blinging while the girls are drinking longnecks down." But Big & Rich are just as effective in less showy numbers like the gorgeous, Roy Orbison-inspired "Six Foot Town," where they "just wanna laugh and love" and "live it up." In their world, no one's shown them a reason not to.
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