12 Songs, 42 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Toby Keith’s 13th studio album’s opening title-track puts politics on the back burner, leaning harder on lyrics that rip on modern-day pop culture instead. The topical “American Ride” is a catchy little twang-rocker that tries to make sense of global warming, rising gas prices, reality television, instant pop stars, YouTube and, of course, the economy. But it’s actually the only song here that he didn’t write — Jimmy Wayne’s producers Joe West and Dave Pahanish did because they thought Keith was the only guy who could pull it off, though he may have been a bit reticent at first; Keith had the song’s demo on his iPod for a year before recording it. Most of these other tunes — the ones that Keith had a hand in writing — are mellower than usual and reveal a maturing sense of his vulnerable side, especially in the lovelorn sentiment of “Are You Feelin’ Me,” as well as the amorous ballad “Tender As I Wanna Be” and “Cryin’ for Me (Wayman’s Song),” a moving dedication to a departed friend of Keith’s — basketball player and jazz musician Wayman Tisdale.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Toby Keith’s 13th studio album’s opening title-track puts politics on the back burner, leaning harder on lyrics that rip on modern-day pop culture instead. The topical “American Ride” is a catchy little twang-rocker that tries to make sense of global warming, rising gas prices, reality television, instant pop stars, YouTube and, of course, the economy. But it’s actually the only song here that he didn’t write — Jimmy Wayne’s producers Joe West and Dave Pahanish did because they thought Keith was the only guy who could pull it off, though he may have been a bit reticent at first; Keith had the song’s demo on his iPod for a year before recording it. Most of these other tunes — the ones that Keith had a hand in writing — are mellower than usual and reveal a maturing sense of his vulnerable side, especially in the lovelorn sentiment of “Are You Feelin’ Me,” as well as the amorous ballad “Tender As I Wanna Be” and “Cryin’ for Me (Wayman’s Song),” a moving dedication to a departed friend of Keith’s — basketball player and jazz musician Wayman Tisdale.

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