Brooks & Dunn’s fifth studio album was IF YOU SEE HER (1998, Arista Nashville). It peaked at #4 on the U. S. Billboard Top Country Albums chart and at #7 on the Canadian RPM Country Albums chart. The album was produced by Don Cook, Kix Brooks, and Ronnie Dunn, with production assistance by Scott Johnson, except for the song ‘If You See Him/If You See Her’, which was produced by Tony Brown and Tim DuBois.
Shawn Camp and John Scott Sherrill wrote the opener, ‘How Long Gone’. It has a happy country feel to it, but the lyrics speak of heartache: “I keep thinkin’ any minute you’ll be comin’ home honey/I ain’t seen nothin’ of you in a month of Sundays/Tell me, how long gone are you gonna be?.../How am I supposed to make any plans when I still don’t even understand if you’re ever gonna come back home to me?/Tell me please/How long gone are you gonna be?”/’I Can’t Get Over You’ was the album’s fourth single and a Top Five Country hit. It’s a sad country song: “I can’t get over you/Try as I may, oh it’s no use/My heart just can’t leave you alone/My mind won’t believe you’re gone/I can’t get over you”.
‘South of Santa Fe’ is a story song: “The shades were pulled and the door was locked/Something made me knock/Time stood still when she opened the door/I didn’t know where I was anymore/And we were lost in each other’s eyes/Where loneliness meets paradise/Something in my heart broke free/Blowing wild as the tumbleweed”. The album’s first single ‘If You See Him/If You See Her’ was a duet with Reba McEntire that went to #1. Tommy Lee James, Jennifer Kimball, and Terry McBride wrote this terrific country ballad that is emotional: “If you see her, tell her I’m doing fine/And if you want to, say that I think of her from time to time/Ask her if she ever wonders where we both went wrong/If you see her (2X)/Oh, I still want her.../Oh, I don’t know why we let each other go/If you see her, tell her the light’s still on for her”.
‘Brand New Whiskey’ is a tongue-in-cheek country song: “Yeah, they oughta make a brand new whiskey and give it a woman’s name/A man needs something to hold on to/When a goodbye hits him like a hurricane/Make it sweet, as sweet as her lips/Intoxicating as her kiss/Something special like champagne/Yeah, they oughta make a brand new whiskey and give it a woman’s name”. Don Cook and John Barlow Jarvis wrote ‘Born and Raised in Black and White’. It’s the first song Kix and Ronnie shared lead vocals on. It’s an upbeat country story song: “With a Christian sense of wrong and right/We were born and raised in black and white/One learned to pray, one loved to fight/We were born and raised in black and white/Well, my brother took to the gospel road/Spent his whole life saving souls/When he looked at me and his blood ran cold/He didn’t even try”.
‘Your Love Don’t Take a Backseat to Nothing’ is a fun country/rock song: “I get down with music and guitars/I fool around with all kinds of fast cars/It takes you baby to keep my motor running/I smoke the tires and watch the rubber burn/It takes your fire to make my wheels turn/Makes my blood run hot and keeps my heart a humming/But your love don’t take a backseat to nothing”. Next up is Roger Miller’s 1966 song ‘Husbands and Wives’. It was Brooks & Dunn’s first Top 40 hit on the Billboard Hot 100. It is a lovely easy listening song of great insight: “Two broken hearts lonely looking like houses where nobody lives/Two people each having so much pride inside/Neither side forgives/The angry words spoken in haste/Such a waste of two lives/It’s my belief pride is the chief cause in the decline in the number of husbands and wives”.
‘Way Gone’ is a fast-paced country and western love song: “Way gone, she’s my one and only/So long to sad and lonely/She waltzed into my world/Now I’m way gone for my sweet girl.../Way gone and I’ve crossed over/Well, I’m lucky as a four leaf clover/I don’t want nobody to save me/’Cause I’m way gone for my sweet baby”. ‘When Love Dies’ includes these honest thoughts: “Oh, when love dies/You can’t bury those memories/Oh, when love dies/It disappears but it never leaves/When love dies it don’t rest in peace/How does love die then come back a ghost rattling chains?/It keeps on haunting my broken heart, driving me insane”. Greg Humphrey and Micheal Smotherman wrote the closing adult contemporary ballad ‘You’re My Angel’. It includes these words of praise for one’s partner: “Oh, you take me up to heaven/When you spread your loving wings/When I am weary and way behind/When I am clearly out of my mind/Oh, when I find I’m in my hell/You’re my angel/Oh, you’re my angel”.
IF YOU SEE HER is the fifth out of ten non-holiday studio albums put out by Brooks & Dunn. The duo’s musical maturity clearly comes through on this project. This country record has an almost equal mix of fast and slow songs on it. The majority of them, by far, are about heartache, heartbreak, and longing. There are however, three happy love songs, and one tale about two brothers. I’d say this album will appeal to those who have experienced life and all that it entails, including lost love. Background vocalists used are: Wes Hightower, Liana Manis, John Wesley Ryles, and Dennis Wilson. The electric guitar work by Brent Mason and Chris Leuzinger is to be commended. I’m rating IF YOU SEE HER 96%. For more info visit: www.brooksanddunn.wordpress.com.