Sunday, January 22, 2012

Album Review: Tim McGraw - Emotional Traffic

We kick off 2012 with one of the most popular and lasting names in country music, Tim McGraw. Tim has had a long journey to release his eleventh and latest album, "Emotional Traffic". It has been more than two years since "Southern Voice" was released. Adding to that, McGraw is in the midst of a breach of contract lawsuit with his record company, Curb Records. Also since "Southern Voice", McGraw had a starring role in "Country Strong" that kept his focus away from music for a while. Tim has had eight #1 albums and twenty three #1 singles, including the first single off this album "Felt Good On My Lips"

Halo - The album kicks off with a powerful and emotional ballad. The only thing stronger than the guitar on this track are McGraw's vocals as he sings about a love that has faded despite every attempt to try to save it. "Cry, Cry, baby I can't change the weather" McGraw sings, describing that feeling of helplessness at a lost relationship. The guitar is what really sells this song, ending with a beautiful guitar solo.

Right Back At Ya - McGraw picks the pace up with the second track, a fun love song with a beach tone to it. The song is about positive karma, McGraw is going to do everything he can to reciprocate the love he has felt from his woman, singing "Right back at ya, babe/ Just like a boomerang/ Everything good you threw my way/ Right back at ya, babe/ Best that you get ready/ There's a whole lotta loving/ That is gonna be coming/ Right back at, ya babe"

One Part, Two Part - Returning to the theme of lost love, McGraw describes how there was a lot of good in the relationship, there was always more bad that got in the way. He sings it in a fun way that makes the song enjoyable and almost makes you forget that he is singing about a breakup.

I Will Not Fall Down - McGraw is in his mid-40's and he knows that he is not as young as he used to be. He acknowledges that in this song, but adds that he is not going to give up. "I will not fall down/ I will not fall down/ I will not fall down/ Without getting up/ That's when I need your love" McGraw sings in the chorus, noting that he cannot do it alone.

One - This song opens by painting a picture reminiscent of McGraw's past hit, "Something Like That". The only bad thing about this song is the awkward editing where McGraw sings the bridge, it sounds like it comes in about a half-second early. The style of this song is perfect for singing in the car as the words are easy and fun to sing along to.

Better Than I Used To Be - Tim slows it back down for what is now the second single from the album. In what is probably the most transparent song on the album, McGraw admits that he is not perfect. Far from it actually. He acknowledges that he has come a long way from his past, but there is still a lot of room for improvement. The song is a good progression in maturity from ten years prior and "My Next Thirty Years" and is sure to reach number one.

Touchdown Jesus - Between "Friday Night Lights" and "The Blind Side", it is no secret that McGraw is a football fan. This song about redemption compares Jesus to a running back, you give either of them a little bit of room to work, and they will take it all the way for the touchdown. I am sure this song is going to get a lot of air time in the churches on Sunday mornings.

One That Got Away - This is an interesting song, one about the irony of being an outcast as a kid, but now that he is famous, everyone wants to know him. This song is sure to resonate with a lot of people, not just singers, who were outcasts in high school, but have dreams of something bigger. "Everyone wants a glimpse of the one that got away/ Everybody wants to see you/ Everybody wants to be you too/ It's funny how they put you down/ But now they think you're alright/ Everybody loves you tonight/ You're the one that got away". This song is perfect for me, as I am currently reading a book that is similar to this "And The Geeks Shall Inherit The Earth" by Alexandra Robbins. This is probably my favorite song on the album.

Felt Good On My Lips - The first single and #1 from the album is a fun one. Tim finds himself in a situation with a girl he did not know, whose name he could not pronounce, listening to music in another language, with a drink guys would not be caught dead with, but they feel good on his lips, so he is having a good time. The song is a great summer song with a great tune and fun lyrics.

Hey Now - Keeping the party theme going, "Hey Now" tells about a party that is winding down, but a girl puts on a new album. At first, McGraw is outraged as he was about to leave, but she starts dancing and Tim realizes maybe it is not so late after all. When she goes to leave, he decides he is going to extend the party for her too. The song is not the strongest on the album, but is a fun one for parties.

Only Human - Another song about maturing moments in life, Rapper Ne-Yo appears as a guest on this song about finding out you are not invincible. Ne-Yo sings "I tried to touch the sky/ Fell right to the ground/ Did my best to fly/ But I just kept falling down/ So many hopes and dreams shattered/ Expectations broken, battered" in the second verse". The song is one of realization, and fits well with the aging McGraw.

Die By My Own Hand - The "I Like It, I Love It" singer wraps up the album with another song about love lost. This time, McGraw admits that the girl in question changed him, but it is hard to change a music man, and before she could save him, she got fed up and left. He does not blame her, saying he "Should have seen it coming/ [He'll] always die by [his] own hand".

McGraw definitely shows a level of maturity on this album that he has not shown previously. At 44, he has had a long career and been around long enough to have learned many lessons along the way. Almost every song on this track is evidence of those lessons. This album will not resonate with everyone, especially much of the younger crowd, but it is one of the best efforts Tim has put forth in years. 9/10

This album is in stores on Tuesday, January 24th.  You can pre-order the album through Amazon, here

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