Tim McGraw’s long awaited “Sundown Heaven Town” is finally here, and we couldn’t be happier to lose ourselves in his version of contemporary country. It’s a breath of fresh air. On McGraw’s second release with new label, Big Machine, he returns to some of the themes and styles that have done him so well in the past. On his newest single, “Meanwhile Back At Mama’s” he uncovers that hint of uncertainty and softness that have always served him so well. This duet with his wife, Faith Hill, is one of the stand outs on an album that weaves back and forth between a more traditional sound that’s wrapped up in banjo and steel guitar, and tracks that seem packaged for radio play in today’s pop country atmosphere. His deep drawl melts over songs like this, which becomes clear on related ballads like “Diamond Rings And Old Bar Stools” and “Last Turn Home.” McGraw was born to sing tender ballads of self-reflection.
There are the sugary romantic songs like “Shotgun Rider,” with it’s aching steel guitar, that do exactly what they’re meant to and make you dream of a relationship where you are that shotgun rider sitting alongside Tim McGraw. The honest “Words Are Medicine” that bring life to the power of words and their ability to heal (or damage) a fragile soul. Then both “Sick of Me” and “Keep On Truckin'” come along, both so reminiscent of his early cuts that it’s almost like listening to an old McGraw record.
Then there are those pop songs, “Dust” and the first single off the album “Lookin’ For That Girl” that miss the mark in terms of what McGraw is capable of. While it’s understandable that they want to build in some tracks that are made to be hits, that fit into the format of country radio as it stands today, they definitely aren’t the type of songs that allow him to shine. It’s not his comfort zone at all, and it feels a little more forced among songs that he sinks into with ease and anticipation.
There are some ups and downs on “Sundown Heaven Town,” but at it’s core it’s the kind of Tim McGraw album that we were hoping for. Full of feel good songs and introspective tracks that provide something for every mood, you can easily get lost in the atmosphere of the instruments and Tim’s affected drawl. Be sure to pick up the album on iTunes today and take a listen to one of my favorite songs below!
What’s your favorite song on the new album? Let us know by leaving a comment or tweeting us @JukeboxMixtape!