With The Way I Wanna Go, Trace Adkins’ extensive new album (25 tracks long), it’s tempting to make Adkins diet jokes when describing its sonic girth. Is it more protein than carbs? Even after multiple listens, though, it’s still difficult to come to any decisive verdict. However, there’s probably more good songs than bad ones. Also, when an album clocks in at the length of a typical Hollywood movie, exploring is certainly a commitment. Make sure you have enough time to listen to it.
The album’s 25 songs mirrors Adkins’ celebration of 25 years in the music business and features a bevy of guest artists (much like a tribute album). However, this is an album of all new material – a lot of it. Some of these star collaborators fit better than others when matched with Adkins’ super deep singing voice. For instance, Pitbull is always like a fly at the picnic, and more of annoyance than anything else on the disposable single “Where the Country Girls At.” Then again, Melissa Etheridge’s sandpaper singing goes together surprisingly well with Adkins during the ballad “Love Walks Through the Rain.”
These days, Adkins rarely writes his own songs, so this album (as with most all of his releases) rises and falls with the quality of its songs. One of the album’s best songs, “It All Adds Up To Us,” gives Adkins a writing credit, somewhat surprisingly. Adkins also shines whenever he’s performing a storytelling song. “It’s A Good Thing I Don’t Drink” is just such a fun, detailed tale, reminiscent of the late, great Tom T. Hall.
It’s good fun to hear Adkins praise Memphis’s music and traditions, along with Stevie Wonder and Keb’ Mo’ on “Memory to Memphis,” but one needs to suspend disbelief when hearing Snoop Dogg brag about listening to country music loud during “So Do the Neighbors.” But even when Adkins is lightheartedly celebrating car culture with “Cadillac’n,” that distinctively bellowing voice of his is a joy to behold. It doesn’t hurt that he’s also blessed to sing over some mighty fine acoustic guitar and organ on this one. The Way I Wanna Go may be a lot to digest at just one sitting, but it’s thankfully not all empty calories. If Trace Adkins goes on singing this well, well, that’s just the way he oughta go.