Coming Home

by: Lonestar

There just isn't another country band as aw-shucks normal as Lonestar, the Tennessee quartet that quietly racked up hits across nearly a decade in its recording career. At the dawn of that career, they had a tougher Texas country streak to their music, but as the years rolled on, they smoothed out their rough edges, turning toward music that's country-pop but without any crossover aspirations. Their 2004 album Let's Be Us Again gave them one of their biggest hits thanks to such domestic-minded tunes as "Class Reunion (That Used to Be Us)" and, especially, the number one country hit "Mr. Mom," and for their quickly released 2005 follow-up, Coming Home, they stick closely to that at-home aesthetic. Not only is the album named after coming home; all the songs celebrate long-term, stable relationships, working steady jobs, living in small little towns, painting an idyllic picture of the United Red States of America. The music is clean and shiny, relying on steady midtempo pop anthems, occasionally dipping into ballads and never breaking a sweat when the tempos get turned up. It's well done and professional and sometimes the sweetly earnest sentiments of the songs add up to some good old-fashioned country corn, such as on "Two Bottles of Beer," which is a nice spin on Rodney Crowell's "American Dream," and the album sparks to life with the bluegrass-inspired closer, "When I Go Home Again." It's not bad, and it's certainly listenable and the guys are likeable. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

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