Album Review: Tim McGraw – Let It Go
The album opens with “Last Dollar (Fly Away),” which most people have heard by now. It has a few good things going for it, but overall there’s a lot of gimmicky stuff going on. Despite the gimmicks it has an upbeat sound that found me bobbing my head along every now and then. McGraw’s daughters join in towards the end and eventually take over to finish the song.
“I’m Workin'” comes along and sets the overall tone of the album. It’s a somewhat depressing song about a man who works the night shift at his job, keeping him from putting his kids to sleep at night. Around the time he gets home from work his wife is leaving for her job and his kids are getting on the school bus. The title has a double meaning, it represents the man working at his job and working on building a better life for his family.
“Let It Go” is the title track of the album and a quintessential Tim McGraw song, balancing substance with repeated drawn out “Oh-yo-yeahs.” The song is about a guy who’s been walking around with all of his past regrets and mistakes, “trying to buy back the pieces I lost of my soul / it’s hard when the devil won’t get off your back.,” but finally decides to let it all go.
Country music and drinking songs go hand in a hand. “Whiskey and You” is a modern day country drinking song in the same spirit, yet not as heavy, as Brad Paisley’s “Whiskey Lullaby.” McGraw sings about a guy comparing his whiskey to a lost love – “I’ll be hurtin’ when I wake up on the floor / I’ll be over it by noon / And thats the difference between the whiskey and you.”
I can find a little something I like about all the songs on the album, with the exception of “Suspicions.” It has a funky beat that stands out, something that McGraw has done on previous albums that I never liked either. The guy has a good looking girl and is paranoid that someone is going to steal her away.
“Kristofferson” falls into the current trend of using a well-known artist’s name as the title (“Tim McGraw” – Taylor Swift, “Johnny Cash” – Jason Aldean) without really paying much tribute to the person in the song. Once you get past the gratuitous name-dropping the song is actually pretty decent. Once again it’s about a man who’s woman left him with a half-written goodbye letter. So he decides to sit down with his guitar and a bottle of 90 proof to finish the letter, you know, like Kristofferson would do.
Next up is “Put Your Lovin’ On Me” which lacks in lyrical substance. The majority of the song is spent with McGraw repeating the title over and over, but it has a soothing beat that keeps it from falling into the “complete crap” category.
The issue of drunk driving is tackled in “Nothin’ To Die For,” and suggests there’s better ways to die “Give your last breath to your wife / take a bullet for your kids / lay your life down for your country / for your Jesus / for your friends.” It’s the kind of song that makes you think about the trivial things in life that people turn into big deals, but really aren’t.
The next song, “Between the River and Me,” is as close to a story song on the album as you’re going to get. The fast melody of the backing music doesn’t scream country music and the vocals don’t sell the emotions of the song, but the story is good. It’s about a fifteen year old boy whose mother just remarried. It didn’t take a long for his step-father to start drinking and abusing his mom, so he vowed to not let him see another sunset. You’ll have to listen to the song to see how the rest of the events unfold. I enjoyed the song, but felt as though it could have used a little more passion from McGraw.
“Train #10″ was co-written by McGraw and one of the better songs on the album about a guy who decided to say goodbye to his lady and ride the train out of town. Only nine trains are coming through during the day, but he finds himself waiting on Train #10…a metaphor for not being able to say goodbye, or procrastination (something I have a lot of experience with.)
Faith Hill trades verses with Tim on “I Need You,” a love song that compares two people needing each other to a needle needing a vein and Uncle Joe out in Oklahoma needing the rain. A little strange and somewhat difficult to understand in parts, but one of the more beautiful songs on the album because it’s so different than previous duets by the husband and wife duo.
One of the only other love songs on the album, “Comin’ Home,” compares falling in love after being without it for so long to…coming home.
“Shotgun Rider” is my favorite of the album. It could have easily fit on Set This Circus Down with its message about cowboys, horses, and honky-tonks. Faith Hill sings back up with a hint of fiddle and steel guitar playing in the background. It’s basically about a woman who tells her cowboy that if he lets her in (“tear down that fence of rusty barbed wire”) she’ll stay by his side where ever he travels, essentially, she’ll be his “Shotgun Rider.”
I’ve read reviews where others say the album has a more country sound due to Tim McGraw’s twangy voice and instrumentation, but with a few exceptions his sound is similar to what we’ve heard before. You could possibly get away with saying that the album is more country in subject matter than previous albums. I was going to rate it three and a half stars, but bumped it up to four because I know it’ll grow on me with each subsequent listen…something his albums always seem to do.
- luckyoldsun: Jim Z-- I get the feeling Barry was this close to calling you what Kinky Friedman called his guy from El …
- Leeann Ward: Thanks, NM. I like a good pop hook, to be honest. So, maybe I need to try it again.
- Barry Mazor: OK, Jim Z. That changes everything. I surrender.
- Jim Z: to call the Dirty River Boys an "Austin area band" is still incorrect. They are based in El Paso.
- nm: Leeann, you and I often have similar tastes in more-traditional country. And, to my ears, Sam Hunt's voice and lyrics …
- Barry Mazor: Matter of fact, as always--I did. The notes say the album was recorded & mixed by and at "The …
- Roger: Looking forward to picking up the Jamey Johnson Christmas EP - love all of those songs and can't wait for …
- Jim Z: that record was recorded in El Paso. (you could look it up) and other than appearing in Austin once in …
- Leeann Ward: Yes, I can always use more dobro in my life! Thanks for the Phil Leadbetter tip! I haven't been able to …
- Barry Mazor: OK, Jim. The record's more or less out of Austin. But I'm sure they're also good in El Paso...