Freeborn Man

Clinton Gregory’s life history of mountain poverty, moonshine, and witnessing his mama shoot his bootlegging daddy makes Loretta Lynn’s story of rural hardship seem almost pale by comparison. As such, it sets up expectations for a colorful collection of autobiographical songs. But on Freeborn Man, Gregory’s third — and highest- profile — album, the Virginia native settles for a typical set of honky-tonk whiners and ballads, distinguished mainly by ”If a Broken Heart Could Kill,” in which he rivals Vince Gill for vocal control, and ”Play Ruby Play,” a hot- breathing ditty about a redneck beauty who fronts a backwoods rock & roll band. Gregory has a smooth, insinuating baritone on the order of Eddie Rabbitt, and as a fiddler who has won 70 regional championships, he knows how to weave a sweet, aphrodisiacal instrumental strain through much of the material. But until Gregory gets past a certain sameness to his records, he’s destined to be regarded as little more than a second-string talent.C+

Freeborn Man
  • Music