Frat boy or serious artist? Testosterone-fueled party animal or gifted singer/songwriter with considerable talent? Newcomer Keith Anderson comes across as all these things - and more - on his debut release, the energetic THREE CHORD COUNTRY AND AMERICAN ROCK & ROLL. However, I'm happy to say that, in the long run, it's the serious side that wins out...for the most part. Things kick off with the rollicking title cut. As you would assume from the title, the track's equal parts country and rock....and, man, does it work! The fiddle fits in nicely next to a throbbing bassline, the guitars are snarling and Anderson's lead vocal is both sly and spirited. This is the kind of song that you just KNOW will sound good on both the radio and the live concert stage! "Podunk" is a mid-tempo rocker (sort of in the Mellencamp vein) about how the more things change, the more they stay the same. A lot of times we don't realize that what we want is what we've already got....Dorothy found that out in "The Wizard Of Oz" and Anderson learns it here: "Ain't it funny how the very place I ran from is the place I'm runnin' to". Delivered in a clear, honest vocal, Anderson is cushioned by an arrangement that propels the song forward but never overpowers things. A real winner! There's a real slinky sexiness to "Wrap Around" that gets under your skin and doesn't let go. Likened to a Huey Lewis song in other reviews, it also has elements of Urban, Gill and McGraw, with a touch of Petty and Seger tossed in. With it's sing-a-long chorus and soaring lead vocal, you just can't help but smile! Toss in upbeat lyrics ("She's the perfect combination/Of Ginger and Mary Ann/Down home sophistication/Ain't no lines in her tan/Sometimes she likes to hear Sinatra/Sometimes ZZ Top") and you have yet another winner! Then there's "XXL"....if your butt's not bopping by the end of this baby, I'd check your pulse if I were you....there's a good chance you're dead! With arena-rock guitars, slamming drums and boogie-woogie piano, this puppy just pops out of the speakers! Oh, sure, some of the lyrics aren't among Anderson's most challenging, but the song's sexy and fun, and what have 90% of the best rock songs over the past four decades been about if not that?!? (That said, I'm sorry they've chosen "XXL" as TCC...'s second single; it's too much like "Pickin' Wildflowers", nor does it allow Anderson to show off another side of himself. For that reason alone, I would much rather have seen it as a third or fourth single). Next we have the track that could very easily end up being 2005's Best Single, the aforementioned nasty-but-oh-so-nice "Pickin' Wildflowers." With it's hypnotic guitars and growling lead vocal, this is groin music, pure and simple (A fact that's only enhanced by the video, one of the sexiest, steamiest three minutes in a long time!). True, some of the lyrics are a bit over the top - I mean, "....a little piece on earth"!?! - but the song's A) fun, B) catchy, C) instantly recognizable and D) one of those cuts that stays with you long after it's ended, which is a very good thing for a debut single! TCC...'s midway point is kind of a mixed bag...it's where you'll encounter some of the disc's best tracks....and it's absolute worst. "Every Time I Hear Your Name" is an instant classic....understated instrumentation, a delicate, yet manly, vocal, thoughtful lyrics that are instantly identifiable to anyone ("Finally got over that song of ours/Stopped chasin' little red sports cars/To check the license plates/And I quit drivin' by your place/Back makin' the rounds at our old haunts/Honky tonks, restaurants/Seein' some of our old friends/Feels good to dance again"....."but when I hear your name")....this SHOULD have been the second single - it's a hit waiting to happen! The less said about the wretched, exceedingly annoying "Stick It" the better. Suffice it to say, the track does nothing to enhance the rest of the record, nor does it advance Anderson's standing as a songwriter or artist of merit in any way. The same can't be said about "Plan B"....mark my word, if Arista doesn't release this as a single for Anderson, someone like Brad Paisley, Tim McGraw or even George Strait will cover it in the near future and have a huge hit with it! Lopping along with a kind of easy-going Eaglesesque vibe, there's an unadorned, no-airs quality to the track. A strong lead vocal from Anderson is dead center, backed by some particularly tasty guitar work and tinkling piano. Yet another hit waiting to happen! "Lazy With Your Love" is probably THREE CHORD COUNTRY....'s biggest surprise.....besides a flare for both country and rock, Anderson is also a bit of a Soul man; the heat-charged grooves on this sultry number could just as easily been found on a Smokey Robinson album during the 60's or 70's, or on any Hall & Oates release from the past two decades. When Anderson sings "You drive me crazy when I get lazy with your love", well, you believe him! Things wrap up with the "Don't judge a book by it's cover" thoughtfulness of "The Clothes Don't Make The Man" and the hopefulness of "I'll Know When I Get There", a tale about the ups and downs encountered while pursuing your dreams. It's funny...when Anderson sings "I don't know if it's worth it/And I don't know if I'm good enough" you can't help but think "How can anyone who puts out a debut album this strong have ANY doubts?!?" THREE CHORD COUNTRY AND AMERICAN ROCK & ROLL proves Keith Anderson is a serious artist, that underneath the killer super-model good looks is a singer/songwriter of considerable talent. Once he learns to trust that talent and let go of some of the gimmicky elements currently hindering his music there'll be no stopping him (As with all my reviews, I'm giving the disc an extra half a star for including the lyrics).