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Clancy's Tavern (Deluxe Edition)

Toby Keith

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Album Review

Discounting its lumbering opener “Made in America” — an ode to Middle America disconcertingly scored to echoing guitar copped from the Edge — Toby Keith plants his flag firmly in the country on Clancy’s Tavern. Modern man that he is, Keith’s definition of country is rooted in ‘70s outlaw, but not beholden to twangy Teles and slow-rolling acoustics — he opens up enough to allow a Caribbean breeze to blow in when he’s taking a moment to “Chill-Ax,” he croons sweetly on “Just Another Sundown,” he even leans on a little melancholic Irish lilt on the title track, just one of many drinking songs on an album named after a bar. Keith measures his memories by beer and hoists a “Red Solo Cup” in a riotous party that goes a long way in explaining what’s right with Clancy’s Tavern. Following through on the lighter touch of the preceding Bullets in the Gun, Keith pushes humor to the forefront and generally isn’t so insistent on driving the beat into arena country territory, letting the melodies and music relax. Similarly, his delivery is unassumingly assured, sounding almost sly when he’s singing about his need to hear a country song and retaining some spooky mystery on “Club Zydeco Moon” (which strangely enough never flirts with Cajun music). Keith is no longer in the flashy phase of his career, and he’s toning down the bravado somewhat — he’s now the guy he sang about being on “As Good as I Once Was” — but he’s settled into this well-weathered skin on Clancy’s Tavern, winding up with his best album in many a moon. [Like Bullets in the Gun, the Deluxe Edition of Clancy’s Tavern contains four bonus live covers: a crackerjack version of Waylon Jennings' “High Time (You Quit Your Lowdown Ways),” Terry Fell's standard “Truck Drivin’ Man,” B.W. Stevenson's “Shambala,” and Chuck Berry's “Memphis.”]

Biography

Born: 08 July 1961 in Clinton, OK

Genre: Country

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Toby Keith spent the '90s as a solid, workmanlike country star who met with considerable chart success, yet never quite broke free of the neo-traditionalist pack to become a household name like Garth Brooks or Alan Jackson. That all changed in 2002 when he recorded "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)," a response to September 11 that became one of country's most highly charged political statements since Merle Haggard's "Okie from Muskogee." The media furor ensured that even...
Full bio
Clancy's Tavern (Deluxe Edition), Toby Keith
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