Tim McGraw – Damn Country Music

by Michael Rampa

tim-mcgraw_damn-country-musicTim McGraw’s said of his 14th studio album, “Damn Country Music” “It’s is all about passion, (taking him back to 1989) “when I came to Nashville to chase my dreams.”

Country music has richly rewarded him over the past two decades and he honors the genre’s tradition here. The album gets off to a very traditional start with Celtic folk. The flute and skillful acoustic picking on the opener “Here Tonight” bring a Mark Knopfler tune immediately to mind .McGraw’s daughter Gracie makes a respectable vocal debut here while her dad’s familiar twangy baritone hits its groove early and remains a comforting thread through all 11 tracks. With a plethora of writing talent, each song shines in its own space while the collection maintains a cohesiveness with its simple themes and raw production. Lori McKenna’s “Humble and Kind” is as subtly effective as the rocker “California” featuring Big & Rich.

The title track is a pleasantly delivered ballad highlighting many of country’s tamer clichés. He forgoes partying and loose women for the innocence of lost love, dirt roads and a beat up truck with a Hank cassette. The 40 minutes has a Keith Whitley feel. Ironically, McGraw arrived in Music City the day he died.

Fast approaching 50 on last year’s “Sundown Heaven Town,” , McGraw seemed to be competing with the bro country movement, incorporating rap riffs and sporting about 8% body fat to appeal to the genre’s younger, pop oriented demographic. Now only a year away from the milestone, he proves here that there’s nothing wrong with making more classically age appropriate music in a genre that has often forsaken its roots in exchange for chart position. This feels more like a throwback than a progression and it is a welcome one.

For more about Tim McGraw, visit www.timmcgraw.com

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