Billy Yates

Though this Missourian has been drawing attention with his maudlin MOR single, ”Flowers,” the rest of his debut, Billy Yates, is mostly a soft-core honky-tonk outing that emulates Merle Haggard. On those tunes, he proves that he has Haggard’s vocal tricks down pat. However, since Billy Yates is a lot less poetic and ornery, the effect is more like Merle lite. C+