David Browne
July 09, 1993 AT 04:00 AM EDT

It Won't Be the Last

Current Status
In Season
Billy Ray Cyrus

We gave it a C

You have to give Billy Ray Cyrus some credit for having the blue-jeans cojones to call his second album It Won’t Be the Last (Mercury Nashville). And you know what? It probably won’t be his last, and it shouldn’t. Sure, Cyrus deserves some of the backlash he’s enduring in the wake of selling 7 million copies of his debut album, Some Gave All. He can seem like a musclebound oaf- Joey Buttafuoco with a ponytail. But Travis Tritt, one of the leading Billy Ray bashers, should count himself lucky to have been given a song as unstoppable as ”Achy Breaky Heart.” And Some Gave All was hardly the aural Twinkie its detractors claimed; listening to its meat-and-potatoes country rock was like watching a good bar band at work. Which is not to say Cyrus is a major artist, no siree Bubba. It Won’t Be the Last still suggests an earnest but generic singer thrust into the big leagues too soon. The songs are a mutant breed of chest-heaving ballads (like the first single, ”In the Heart of a Woman,” which is worthy of Michael Bolton) and he-man rock guitars supplied by his band Sly Dog. At least three numbers recycle the kick-up-the-dust riff of ”Achy Breaky Heart.” Another, ”When I’m Gone,” blatantly cops ”Are You Lonesome To-night?” with Cyrus taking his best hapless shot at a low-down Elvis voice. And it probably wasn’t a good idea to let Cyrus anywhere near sheet music: His song ”Throwin’ Stones” is literally a string of cliches (”You build me up just to tear me down .What goes up must come down . Every dog must have its day ”-you get the idea). Every so often, though, Cyrus’ persona-the sensitive hunk blurting out average-slob sentiments-connects with a good song, and the result nearly makes up for his buffoonery. Here, that song is ”Words By Heart,” about a man coming across an old farewell letter from an ex and not having to read it again because he knows every line, ”From ‘this ain’t easy’ to ‘you’ll get along just fine’/I know every comma, every question mark.” Anyone who has ever engaged in an extended correspondence that didn’t end well knows exactly how he feels, and he sings the brawny chorus with the blowsy gusto of a Nashville Jon Bon Jovi. And guess what, Travis-that’s the stuff of ’90s country too. C

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