"Well, they finally put that red light up in the heart of town/ took the stop sign down, it was shot up anyway/ one night I ran through it in my Chevrolet/ both police cars came but I got away." - Metropolis - Anthony Smith-Chris Wallin.

His second ex-wife shot him in the heart and lungs as a farewell present on their last day together in 1994 and he was inducted into Grand Ole Opry a year after an obligatory DUI bust.

Thrice wed Trace Adkins is an old style country star with a booming baritone that nails his songs to barroom walls with unerring accuracy.

When singing drummer Gary Young played Adkins tune I Left Something Turned On At Home on Nu Country FM in its Beer Can Hill era he was a kindred spirit.

Trace, 44, stands 6 ft 6 in the old currency and doesn't hide his Louisiana and Texas roots as a pipe fitter on offshore oil rigs.

Adkins has oft been to hell and back in a career that almost ended when pinned under his tractor after rolling it in October 2002 working on a gravel road on his 60-acre farm south of Nashville.

But Trace 12-stepped back onto charts with stone country anthems striking a chord with radio, TV and way beyond.

Adkins majored in petroleum technology at Louisiana Tech University, sang gospel in hometown Sarepta but is best known as a bucolic Barry White of bars and boudoirs.

Previous disc Comin' On Strong found Trace celebrating his characters' Lothario loin leaps with delicious dexterity.

He expands that on sixth album Songs About Me (Capitol) - new tune Baby I'm Home and down home love songs Find Me A Preacher and biblical imagery of Bring It On and My Way Back.

The latter finds his nest fleeing character cast as a mama's boy.

"Momma put a bible in my glove box/ a hot home made apple pie on the passenger seat/ she said you'll always be my baby/ she planted a kiss and a couple tears on my cheek."


But the tears flow like lachrymose lava best in chart topping Arlington - evocative tale of a modern soldier joining his grandfather in the famed military cemetery.

U.S. Marine Corporal Patrick Nixon - the first Tennessee soldier killed during the war in Iraq was the source.

Songwriter Dave Turnbull wrote it with Jeremy Spillman after meeting the soldier's father.

"I knew that was the song I had been waiting a long time to record," Adkins said.

"I almost recorded Letters From Home, and then for some reason, I was thinking, 'It just doesn't feel quite right.' Of course, John Michael Montgomery had a big hit with it - which was great. But then this song came along, and I said, 'that's what I've been waiting for.' It's just a nonpolitical song. It doesn't glorify war at all or anything like that. It's just simply playing tribute and homage and respect to the people who gave that last full measure."

Adkins entrée is the Shaye Smith-Ed Hill penned biographical title track that has a nice sting in the tail where the character wins over a heretic.

Equally powerful is Metropolis where the character's youthful desire to flee his tiny hometown morphs into maturity when his partner falls pregnant and history repeats.

Cynics will perceive Adkins music as blatant pandering to the mainstream but if you sing as well as Adkins who cares.

Adkins branched out with roles on TV shows King Of The Hill and Yes, Dear after he conquered his addictions.

The singer voluntarily entered and completed a 28-day alcohol rehabilitation program.

"I think that my family is very proud of what I've done," says Adkins.

"Dealin' head on with my addictions and all that. So, and that's the way it should be.

Because it is a noble thing when you finally decide, or you admit that you have a problem.

Deal with it, and take the bull by the horns, so to speak."

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