Which made it so frustrating when the first single off of Sundown Heaven Town was “Lookin’ For That Girl,” an auto-tuned faux-rap mess of a song. Not long after, McGraw redeemed himself with the spectacular “Meanwhile Back at Mama’s” and now, the third single, “Shotgun Rider,” (curiously, the second time McGraw has recorded a song with that title) is another solid choice off of the album, another one filled with great tracks amid a few duds.
In “Diamond Rings and Old Barstools,” McGraw sings that of those two, one is for queens and one is for fools. “I guess some things don’t mix as well as you hoped / like me and you / and diamond rings and old barstools.” And in “Last Turn Home” McGraw compares the love of a good woman to that great feeling of coming back with the metaphor that she’s the “last turn home.”
Don’t believe that everything is great. It still features “Lookin’ For That Girl,” which if it weren’t for the fact of how bad it was would be forgotten by most of us by now…it really never made an impact on the radio (which may have had a lot to do with the fan response to the ACM performance of “Meanwhile Back at Mama’s” leading to a quick release of it as a single). And “Keep O’ Truckin’” is a number suggesting, in an obviously clichéd way, that we push on through adversity and tough times. Not a bad message, if not somewhat overdone, but even the style of the song is still clichéd and McGraw is way better than the song.
"McGraw shows again on this album that he’s still one of the most talented male vocalists still recording and touring in the genre. He’s definitely at his best when he’s singing slower to mid-tempo songs. But he’s still capable of making great country music."
“Still on the Line” is the album closer (if you don’t pick up the deluxe edition) and is another solid country tune where one old love calls another.
If you spring for the deluxe version, you’ll receive five bonus tracks, including “Lincoln Continentals and Cadillacs,” a duet with Kid Rock. It’s hard to understand why this ended up as a deluxe edition only track. You’d figure that bringing in Kid Rock for a duet would merit putting the track on the standard version of the album, not necessarily for its quality, but because it’s a duet that requires bringing another performer into the studio. It’s not a bad song, and Kid Rock doesn’t turn the song into a rap, nor does McGraw. It’s a solid up-tempo song. “Kids Today” explores that kids today may want different things than their parents did at that age but that they’re very much the same and there’s nothing wrong with them.
McGraw shows again on this album that he’s still one of the most talented male vocalists still recording and touring in the genre. He’s definitely at his best when he’s singing slower to mid-tempo songs. But he’s still capable of making great country music. Perhaps that’s been forgotten as a result of some of those earlier mentioned single choices.
Let’s hope that with all the strong material on that album that the right singles are chosen to start to make country radio listenable again.