On his last album, country baritone Trace Adkins included a song called ''Arlington,'' sung from the viewpoint of a dead serviceman. He followed that solemn hit with an even bigger smash, ''Honky Tonk Badonkadonk,'' a sincere appreciation of the service rendered to our nation by ladies' bottoms. Arguably, these two songs provided slightly more breadth than any one album should have.
His new CD, Dangerous Man, veers just as dramatically between sanctimony and salaciousness. In the racy title track, Adkins threatens the virtue of some maiden. Later, in ''I Came Here to Live,'' an auto mishap results in a religious epiphany and settling down. Next, in ''Swing,'' it's back to the bars and pickup lines and so on. Adkins is 6'6''; do you want to tell him he can't have it both ways?
The low point is ''Fightin' Words,'' a litany of things that'll provoke an Adkins smackdown (don't insult his mom, flag, or dog). With this redneck bait, country's premier ass man is just being an ass. But he also serves up two of the year's best-written tunes in ''I Wanna Feel Something,'' a boldly honest anthem about middle-aged numbness, and ''The Stubborn One,'' a tough-minded salute to a feebleminded grandpa. Both prove Adkins can grab us by our hearts and minds...when he's not so fixated on ogling rears or thumping chests.