Toby Keith - American Ride

Toby Keith has returned with this album, released almost exactly a year after That Don't Make Me A Bad Guy.  Does this record stand-up next to Toby's greatest albums?  Is it one of the year's best releases? Will more hits come from it?

From a sonic standpoint alone, Toby Keith seems to be on a roll as of late with his own releases on his Show Dog Records label. The songs mix a menagerie of sounds into a cohesive album after cohesive album and with this renewed sense of artistry, Toby Keith remains one of the top draws at country radio and on tour.  Earlier in 2009 Toby Keith surprisingly released “American Ride” as a single instead of another track from That Don’t Make Me A Bad Guy.   Punting that album (which experienced lackluster sales), Toby immediately scored a big hit with the single.  Written by outside writers Joe West and Dave Pahanish (who wrote Jimmy Wayne’s No. 1 hit “Do You Believe Me Now”), “American Ride” mixed observational lyrics about the wide variety of people found in American society with an interesting, up-tempo melody.  The song became so successful that Toby made it the title track to this, his latest album.

“Every Dog Has Its Day,” one of seven co-writes on American Ride with go-to co-writer Bobby Pinson, is a rollicking modern fiddle-filled honky tonker about a familiar scene in a bar where a guy decides to go get himself somebody to dance with/hopefully date. It’s playful and irreverent and just the kind of up-tempo song Toby Keith is able to excel at.  Toby solely wrote a pair of the albums best tunes, the ballads “Tender As I Wanna Be” and “Cryin’ For Me (Wayman’s song).” The former song recalls Toby’s better ‘power ballads” like “Does That Blue Moon Ever Shine On You” while the latter song is a touching, tender tribute to jazz musician and former NBA star Wayman Tisdale.   The Jazz bassist died unexpectedly and every word of this song is obviously written from Toby Keith’s heart.  Wayman’s fellow jazz musicians and friends, bassist Marcus Miller, percussionist Arthur Thompson and saxophonist Dave Koz, guest on the track as well.   

“Gypsy Driftin’” finds Toby Keith singing in a sleepy pace during the beginning of the track (where it’s almost boring) but by the chorus we understand why.  He is singing about a guy who was bored with the job he had so he decided to do something about it.  By the chorus, Toby’s singing in a much less boring voice and the song feels as if it could be a sleeper radio hit.  American Ride is certainly an album that is one of Toby’s better efforts of the past few years and if truly finds him at another creative peak where his songwriting is sharp and production choices are strong.

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