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Originally published May 13, 2013 at 9:27 AM | Page modified May 13, 2013 at 9:37 AM

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Review: Trace Adkins looks for spark on new album

Trace Adkins, "Love Will ." (Show Dog/Universal)

Associated Press

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Trace Adkins, "Love Will ." (Show Dog/Universal)

Trace Adkins works with five different producers on his 11th album, suggesting the country music veteran and reality TV star is searching for an infusion of fresh energy.

And "Love Will ." does find Adkins occasionally trying out new sounds. There's the soul-country vibe of "So What If I Do," which features a saxophone to play up the pop-crossover possibilities. And there's a duet with pop singer Colbie Caillat on "Watch The World End," a strange love song set during the apocalypse.

While the arrangements test new territory, the themes tend toward the middle-of-the-road romanticism he's stuck with for two decades. Eschewing any up-tempo rockers, the tall, muscular former oil rigger concentrates on romantic themes, some of which push at the steamier edges of conservative country music conventions - as on his cover of the Exile pop hit "Kiss You All Over."

For such a roughneck guy, he excels at tender ballads, as on "Come See Me" and the spiritually oriented title song, which features the Harlem Gospel Choir. But there's nothing here likely to lift him to the upper tier of country stars - which seems like a missed opportunity, considering the high media profile his role on TV's "Celebrity Apprentice" has given him.

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