Backpeddling from the mellow, burnished surroundings of Ride 'em Cowboy, Paul Davis gussied up his country-rock with lots of '70s trappings on 1976's Southern Tracks & Fantasies. Layered with keyboards, from shimmering Fender Rhodes to belching Moogs, dabbling with reggae rhythms and long-haired blues jams with a surprising amount of grit, making passing references to pot, karma and Jesus rock, this touches on almost every Southern rock trend of the mid-'70s, demonstrating more range and less focus than Davis ever did on record. This, naturally, is something of a mixed blessing: Davis does all these sounds equally well, sounding convincing even when he's growling on "Long Haired Redneck," but where he stumbles somewhat is on his writing, never managing to come up with an indelible tune. Still, as a record, Southern Tracks & Fantasies is easily one of his most interesting, boasting more sounds and ideas than any of his other LPs, as well as offering convincing proof that Davis could truly rock when he wanted to. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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