Review : Toby Keith - American Ride
BillboardThere's a little less bluster and bravado on Toby Keith's latest album, "American Ride," and it's a welcome turn. Keith has always understood how to connect with his loyal fans, and he may have sensed their need for a break from the in-your-face feel of his most recent albums. The track "Are You Feelin' Me" is a rare show of vulnerability from the Oklahoma native, while "Woke Up on My Own" finds the singer facing his own limitations. Dave Koz's saxophone is a perfect accompaniment to the tender and touching "Cryin' for Me (Wayman's Song)," a tribute to former NBA star/ jazz musician Wayman Tisdale, who died in May. The fiddle- and steel guitar-laden "You Can't Read My Mind" and the I'm-a-lug-but-you-love-me-anyway "Tender As I Wanna Be" are destined to be dancefloor favorites. But "American Ride" isn't completely chutzpah. The first single/title track is the only song on the set that Keith didn't have a hand in writing-it's a look at America and all its foibles. Meanwhile, the rocking and rousing tune "Loaded" celebrates the workingman's night on the town. -Ken Tucker...full text
AllmusicWith most contemporary country artists, you could guarantee that a song called "American Ride" would be a slice of jingoism, but Toby Keith isn't like most country singers. His "American Ride" casts a cynical eye at desperate housewives and wannabe pop stars, not celebrating down-home values but wondering where we're all headed on this American Ride at the end of the 2000s, a sentiment not all that far removed form some of Keith's previous social commentary, which makes it a mild surprise that it is the only song here that doesn't come from his own pen. As superb and striking as it is, it's not necessarily a good keystone for the rest of the record, which does have a few tougher numbers that pick up on the lean, mean vibe of 2008's That Don't Make Me a Bad Guy -- "Every Dog Has Its Day," the sly "If I Had One," and the heavy blues stomp "Loaded" -- but spends more time on the softer side, even when he kicks up a bit of dust on the dancefloor on "You Can't Read My Mind" or does a funny, respectful salute to military life on "Ballad of Balad." In other words, the real touchstone for the rest of the record is "Tender as I Wanna Be," where he lets his guard down and lets the romance flow. This doesn't turn American Ride into a schizophrenic jumble, as Keith has always balanced these two extremes, but after spending a little bit more time swaggering than wooing, he's back to crooning and it's amiable and appealing, if not overwhelming....full text
EwAn insanely prolific songwriter, Keith has released an album every year since 2005, most featuring a mix of rambunctious obnoxiousness and heartfelt balladeering. That same formula shows up here, with the brash mockery of current events in the title track offsetting ''Cryin' for Me (Wayman's Song),'' a sweet tribute to a friend who passed away. But whereas a good Toby Keith tune should stubbornly stick in your craw, too few of these samey-sounding songs are memorable. Prolific is one thing, discerning quite another...full text
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