Tim McGraw's 'Two Lanes' finds a new country route
Posted February 4, 2013
The hardest trick for a country-music singer is to explore the genre's well-worn emotional templates - the small-town bust-out, the big-time breakup, the prisoner's regret, the throat-clutching rummage through a deceased parent's memorabilia - and have your voice still ring fresh and true.
A rejuvenated Tim McGraw pulls that off on a majority of the 11 tracks on his new Two Lanes of Freedom (* * * ½ out of four), out Tuesday. The approach is country at its core, yet he and veteran producing partner Byron Gallimore invigorate the arrangements with touches of hip-hop (Truck Yeah), Billy Joel pop (the sprightly Mexicoma), Coldplay-like "woah woah'' choruses (the title track) and squalling rock guitars throughout. Even his obligatory pairing with fellow stars Taylor Swift and Keith Urban on closer Highway Don't Care thrusts listeners right into the center of a head- and heart-pounding psychodrama that everyone's endured at some point.
If this is an indication of McGraw's next phase, then let Freedom ring again and again.
Download: Two Lanes of Freedom, Nashville Without You, Mexicoma, Number 37405, Highway Don't Care
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