Having been delayed a couple of years due to label-related issues, country superstar Tim McGraw has finally released "Southern Voice," his 10th album, a decidedly more subdued and reflective affair than previous efforts but worth the wait.
This time out, McGraw, 42, is joined in the studio by his touring band, the Dancehall Doctors, on all but one of the songs, "Love You Goodbye," and it works well.
Opening with some ethereal guitars and an eerie vibe, "Good Girls" is a dark song about two friends, Jesse and Jenny, who go racing on a dark night, and it’s revealed Jenny has been with Jesse’s man.
A train comes down the track and tragedy strikes. It’s a throwback, but in a good way.
The dreamy, folksy, country-pop track "Forever Seventeen," written by Nashville songwriters Joe Doyle and Josh Kear, is a nostalgic song that fits McGraw’s range perfectly.
Over a mid-tempo rootsy-country beat, the Frank Capra-esque "If I Died Today" has McGraw asking if anyone would notice or care if he passed away today.
Reminding me of Glen Campbell’s "Gentle On My Mind," McGraw combines a countrypolitan and traditional sound on the incredibly appealing "Ghost Town Train (She’s Gone)."
If you’re looking for more rousing, honky-tonkin’ Tim McGraw, go no further than "It’s a Business Doing Pleasure With You," a song co-written by Chad Kroeger of Nickelback.
McGraw’s Louisiana drawl is strong on "I Didn’t Know It At The Time," and, of course, the fascinating title track with its references from every Southerner from Bear Bryant to Hank Williams to William Faulkner.
And there’s a place in McGraw’s mind that he likes to visit on the powerful ballad "Still," a song where McGraw gets to stretch his voice.
"When this world gets crazy / and tries to break me / and I had all I can stand / I can close my eyes / no matter where I am / and just be still," sings McGraw.
There are some songs that didn’t quite have the impact they could have. "Mr. Whoever You Are" and "I’m Only Jesus" fall a little flat.
A big drawback is McGraw didn’t spend a little extra money to feature the lyrics in a CD booklet. One is forced to go scattershot around Google looking for song lyrics.
For more information and tour dates for his 2010 "Southern Voice" tour with Lady Antebellum, Love and Theft and The Lost Trailers, visit www.timmcgraw.com.
Grade ? B +
About the author: Andrew Griffin is the editor of RedDirtReport.com. Visit the site here.