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Garth Brooks returns with the underwhelming ‘Gunslinger’

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It sounds like he’s running on autopilot.

Two stars

Garth Brooks Gunslinger

After releasing his first full-length original album in 13 years with 2014’s Man Against Machine, country legend Garth Brooks seems to have resigned himself to becoming a cog in that very machine, and his new album Gunslinger is a desultory and forgettable follow-up to an already underwhelming comeback. Although Brooks co-wrote nine of the album’s 10 songs, there’s virtually no personality to any of them—even his duet with wife Trisha Yearwood on the passable love song “Whiskey to Wine” lacks passion.

Elsewhere, the songs range from painfully corny (Kenny Chesney-style party song “Weekend,” complete with pandering name-checks of various locations; absurdly melodramatic car-crash saga “He Really Loves You”) to merely bland (clunky MOR power ballad “Ask Me How I Know”; would-be arena rocker “Pure Adrenaline”). Brooks sounds like he’s running on autopilot, and the album’s production is dated and flat. Unlike many performers his age, Brooks has no need to churn out anonymous albums in order to make money, which makes Gunslinger’s songwriting-demo level of quality all the more baffling and disappointing.

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