Somewhere along the way, Doug Stone
traded relatively straightforward honky tonk balladeering for mainstream country balladeering that leaned heavily toward country-pop. Since his voice has always been rich and sweet, not heavily country, the transition makes sense, but it's still sort of surprising how slick and radio-ready his sixth album, Make Up in Love
, is. It's country in name only, simply because it has prominent acoustic guitars, steel guitars, and a bit of a twang, but the songs and performances are all adult contemporary pop -- it's quite remarkable that a cover of RB Greave's kitschy pop-soul classic "Take a Letter, Maria" is the closest this comes to hardcore country. Since Stone
's voice is pleasant, the music is often pleasant, but it's hardly memorable. Perhaps if he had taken the leap into straight adult pop and worked with stronger material, Make Up in Love
would be more than simply pleasantly forgettable, but as it stands, it's inoffensive, professionally made country-pop. Stone
is capable of more than that, as his earlier records prove, but he does sound in his element here, even if the music isn't as effective as his albums from the early '90s.