(Atlantic Records, 1996)

by Sandra L. Toney

(c)1996 EMOL

What can a person say about the spectacular, but underrated, country superstar, Tracy Lawrence? He is extremely talented, cute as a button, and has a rebel attitude that shines through in his music. His songs can make you feel terribly sad and melancholy or ready to take on the world. Each selection on every album Lawrence has made (this is his fifth album), seems like it is coming straight from the heart of Lawrence himself. It is as if he's experienced all the heartache and dejection that his ballads represent as well as those ready-to-take-on-the-world, upbeat tunes he excels at . . .

But underrated? Yes, I feel Lawrence has been virtually ignored by the various country music awards industries. It's a shame, too, because his music is a new kind of country heavily sprinkled with that classic country and western feel. On Lawrence's fifth album, Time Marches On, he does perhaps some of his best work to date. The title cut is a fabulous example of Tracy Lawrence at his best: songs with heart and meaning. The single tells about how times change and how we deal with those changes, "The South moves North, the North moves South/A star is born, a star burns out/The only thing that stays the same/Is everything changes, everything changes . . ."

The other side of Lawrence, the rebel side, is apparent on this album as well. The foot-tappin' sure-to-be-a-hit single, "Excitable Boy," is my personal idea of Tracy Lawrence in real life. He literally screams out the chorus, "I've been a renegade/Since the day I was born/I get a little carried away/Never meant to do nobody no harm/I gotta rock it, I can't stop it/I ain't about to change." Country music doesn't get much better . . .

Still, Lawrence is probably a better crooner than rocker as he exhibits in such songs as "Stars Over Texas," "I Know That Hurt By Heart," "Somewhere Between the Moon and You," and "If You Love Me" (this has GOT to become a hit on the charts). If I had to pick the best song on the album, it would most likely be the opening cut, "Is That a Tear," that tells about a getting a call on his answering machine from an ex-lover and thinking he hears some regret in her voice as he laments, "Said she's sorry that she missed me/And she's been doin' just fine/I've run it back and heard her say/Those words a hundred times/But somethin' makes me wonder/Is she happy with her choice/Or is that a tear I hear in her voice?"

There's not enough good things I can say about Tracy Lawrence's "Time Marches On." If you don't already own it, run, don't walk, to the nearest music store. If you are one of the fortunate country listeners who has it sitting in their music library, take it out, place it in your CD or cassette player, and be prepared to enjoy yourself while some of your quality "Time" Marches On.

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