Contemporary country is really just a terrible genre of music. It’s comparable in a way to reggaeton; every song just plain sounds the same, and most of the time are essentially the same tune played over. Lyrical themes are constantly repeated, singers have extremely similar, “southern” accents that cause them to sound more idiotic than introspective. Tim McGraw was a large avatar for this in his earlier releases, but he started to become more tolerable as time went on. Set This Circus Down
, in my eyes his best album, shows the time where he was at both the least level of cheese, but had not yet “sold out,” or sold out as much as you can in the Country scene.
Tim McGraw actually has quite the voice, relatively. He does have a southern accent, but it isn’t hick-ish nor is it as thick and fake as most other pop country artists. He’s a powerful vocalist, who can go from soft crooning to some great booming vocals in an instant. “Telluride” finds him singing in falsettos that meld well with the guitar solos and harmonized backup vocals. While he isn’t on the level of emotion and raw charisma as other country greats, he certainly is at least near the top of current/90’s pop country artists to say the least.
Of course, next come the matter of his lyrical prowess. Yeah, he really doesn’t deviate much from any other country artist out there. He deals with the same issues about love, taking drugs, failed love, quitting drugs…oh and some stuff about his family and random stories and the like. He does do some very bare thinking on “Grown Men Don’t Cry” but its too little too late, as he repeats the same themes as he has on every record before this and after. His technical songwriting abilities are nothing to write home about either, as he uses the same cliché metaphors and imagery as George Strait did, only ten years prior.
Then there’s the major problem with Country music, which is the “musical” aspect of it. Plain and simple, the problem with it as a whole is the same session musicians are constantly used. Yes, they’re great players, but when you have the same 5 or 6 people playing on every country record coming out of Tennessee, there’s going to be a variety problem. You’re not going to hear a single interesting idea here; Western-styled guitars, lots of heavy snare hits, and the same old mandolin/steel guitar solo used in every two bit Country album since Joe Nichols was born. This album follows along perfectly in that; the music is uninspired and dull, and nearly always bleeds into the next song regardless of whether it’s a ballad or show-stopping number.
I talk about this album so generally because it is an album of generalities, if I can stretch the word so. Tim McGraw, while having a great voice, is still everything wrong with country music (Or rather, was). He constantly rehashes the same ideas, never bringing any new originality to an audience that merely demands a new catchy hook to get behind and sing every five minutes to their fellow man. Tim McGraw may be a product of a stagnant environment, but he could still push out his boundaries more than he does here. While it isn’t as outright bad and overdone as his previous efforts, its still just a bland Country album that will only appeal to fans of the genre (although it will massively appeal if you can take all the genericness of it).