By 1974’s Ride 'em Cowboy, Paul Davis abandoned any hints of the fizzy bubblegum pop that characterized his debut, A Little Bit of Paul Davis, but that doesn’t mean he left behind the slickness of AM pop production. Ride 'em Cowboy may indeed be the clear move toward country-rock that its title indicates, but Davis still manages to kick out some clavinet-driven funk on “Midnight Woman,” adds some glistening electric pianos to a soulful cover of Neil Young’s “Southern Man,” and “Bronco Rider” and “Alabama” boogie with just a hint of fuzz, all elements that keep this from being just a bit too mellow. Still, the main thrust of Ride 'em Cowboy is Davis’ recasting himself as a country-rocker, and one that favors light, breezy harmonies and strummed guitars instead of hardcore 2-steps and pedal steels. This gentle sway suits Davis’ laid-back personality, but this isn’t just mood music: Davis writes a handful of terrific tunes, including the sweet opening “You’re Not Just a Rose” and, of course, the dreamy title track, which was his breakthrough and wound up creating the blueprint for the rest of his soft rock ‘70s. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi

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