Houston native Austin Collins has followed his country music jones up the road to the state capital, where his debut, Something Better, has quickly established his credentials as a Texas country up-and-comer. Collins has a gift for intelligent lyrical hooks that make his brand of country far superior to the mindless one-liner Toby Keith-isms that dominate country radio. His voice is instantly likable, and it works well in the friendly grooves of songs like "22 Hours" and the title track, which could be a country radio hit with the right breaks. But don't get the idea that this is some glorified form of pandering Nashvegas vanilla pudding. Songs like "Down" (as in "you're goin' down"), which echo the likes of Jack Ingram and Cross Canadian Ragweed, have the requisite stomp and swagger to stand up against all the alt-country hipsters and the loudest of the Texas music bands. Barring a serious misstep, Austin Collins seems quickly bound for greater things than a Tuesday-night songwriter showcase.
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