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Damn Country Music

A reliable country star turns in a handful of strong songs and a lot more mush

Tim McGraw

LAS VEGAS, NV - APRIL 07: Singer/songwriter Tim McGraw performs during ACM Presents: An All-Star Salute To The Troops at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on April 7, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images for ACM)

Ethan Miller/Getty Images for ACM

If Tim McGraw made a record half as good as this title, it’d be pretty good. The actual album is, too, if just barely. One of country’s dependable older-gentleman standard-bearers, McGraw’s evidently still feeling his oats after the pop trials of last year’s Sundown Heaven Town, although he’s thankfully past full-on dad-at-the-disco moves like that LP’s goofy “Lookin’ for That Girl.” His latest begins on a more fitting dad note: “Here Tonight,” a Celtic-tinged duet with his daughter Gracie, a top-notch harmonizer. “Colorado got me high, but I’d rather be right here tonight,” he sings, demonstrating solid family values, per usual.

There’s quality songcraft here, to be sure — see the title track, a convincing tale of a honky-tonk man led astray by music, which has more than a whiff of memoir. Otherwise, though, it’s undistinguished radio fodder. “Love Runs” is a songsmith’s personification exercise over atmospheric mid-Eighties-U2 guitar chug, complete with a mild Bono-esque “whoa-uh-oh!” And “Losin’ You” is a big-beat mid-life lost-love lament that namechecks classic recordings (George Jones, Emmylou Harris) and Larry McMurtry novels with the slyness of deep-rhyming MC. It’s a shame McGraw didn’t take more aesthetic tips from his sources.

In This Article: Tim McGraw

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