Album Review: Kid Rock - “Sweet Southern Sugar”

How does a multi-genre artist known for bravado manage to age gracefully as they enter their late 40s?

By the time any man hits middle age it’s exceedingly hard to keep up the same kind of piss and vinegar, cocky bravado which is fueled by the testosterone of our youth. For Kid Rock, that is even harder as he’s built his career off such kinds of songs. So what to do, then? Well, if you’ve heard his multi-genre diversions into southern rock, hip-hop and soul, in addition to the hard rock found throughout his catalog, you release Sweet Southern Sugar.

Released on his own label via BMG's Broken Bow Records, Country rock rules the day with songs like “Po-Dunk,” and the world weary “Tennessee Mountain Top,” a song which basically is all about aging and a GTFO story about the mismatch that Hollywood was for the man from suburban Detroit. Rock N Roll and bravado still find their way into these 10 tracks that make up Sweet Southern Sugar, it’s just not a whole album. There’s the concert opener of “Greatest Show On Earth” (it’s actually the title of Kid Rock’s next tour and “American Rock N Roll” works as a bluesy country rocker in the vein of his early hit “Only God Knows Why.” The album closer, “Grandpa’s Jam” is perhaps Kid Rock as old time fans like him best. There’s bravado, exactly the kind which he has owned throughout his career.

There are a couple songs which need to be pointed out here, including an inspirational rap/soul song “Back To The Otherside,” an anti-suicide song with perhaps the best message Kid Rock has ever released and then there’s the cover of “Sugar Pie Honey Bunch,” a nod to those Motown area roots which works well here. “Stand The Pain” feels like a lost Eagles number and works as perhaps the third best song here. Sweet Southern Sugar is a record for Kid Rock’s fans and it’s a record that’s made without much consideration for mainstream success but Kid Rock knows his core audience an audience who has allowed him to become a superstar and someone who can take chances here or there and manages to do just that.