Trace Adkins' big mouth gets him in trouble

DAVID VEITCH

, Last Updated: 1:36 PM ET

At 6*-ft. tall, Trace Adkins is a big man -- and even this country music newcomer admits he has a mouth to match.

"I get in trouble for it a lot from my publicist and the label," the 34-year-old singer concedes. "They tell me: `Just sing and shut up' because I have this problem with honesty."

He's a straight-shooter on record, too. His fine debut CD, Dreamin' Out Loud, generally sticks to the honky-tonk basics that the burly baritone perfected by playing Southern rock and countrified Stax-Volt classics in bars throughout Tennessee and Texas during the last two years.

Adkins describes his style in those days as "combat country. When you play in Texas, those people heard the best, so you have to wow them. It's a war."

He was playing a Nashville nightclub when Scott Hendricks -- who discovered Alan Jackson -- offered Adkins a recording contract with Capitol Nashville.

"Scott told me: `I want you to do what you did tonight.' And I thought, `Thank God.' He didn't try to make me into something else."

Adkins says he had been approached by other record labels but "they didn't know what to do with me -- what direction I should take." His reaction? "Screw that, man!"

It's that sort of artist manipulation which is ruining country, Adkins says.

"Don't try to manipulate people into something they're not.

"For instance, I won't do a ditty or a stupid song because it's a quote unquote commercial song that radio will play."

Whoa, Trace. There IS a remarkably stupid ditty on Dreamin' Out Loud entitled I Left Something Turned On At Home, in which Adkins reveals that something "ain't the stove/It ain't the heater/She's hotter and a whole lot sweeter."

Isn't it a little, um, stupid to suggest your lover is sweeter than a self-cleaning oven?

"Yeah, that is a stretch," says Adkins. "But I didn't write that song.... That's as close to a ditty as I'll ever get."

He's probably right. Adkins appears destined to join the ranks of Alan Jackson, Tracy Lawrence and other Nashville mavericks who are determined to keep the country in country music.

"I really have been struggling to figure out what's going on in country music. The music has become so broad ... that I think we've lost our identity a little bit. That scares me."

Now he knows what his publicist and record label feel like.

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