Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Album Review - Neal McCoy - XII

Neal McCoy's new album, XII, his, you guessed it, 12th studio released album comes to stores and iTunes on March 6, 2012. A great year for a twelfth album, yes? XII mixes the 90s Neal McCoy we are all familiar with and some more modern sounds, thanks to the collaborative efforts of producers Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert, and guitar-slinger Brent Rowan.  Clearly the album was a task of love.

 Just take a look at the video for the first song on the album, "A-OK." Hear the background vocals of Blake and Miranda in this care-free song to start of the spring (almost here!) with a bounce. I can't tell if it's the whistling or the lyrics that I enjoy more. Just take a listen.

The next song, "Real Good Feel Good" has a similar feel with more of that modern stiltiness to the lines. A steady poppy groove has you dancin' in your chair. I am right now. "Somebody put a smile back on my face...Somebody call up Texas; have 'em send a little soul my way/ I need a real good, feel good song. Let it play til my blues get gone." That last part there, that's the kind of lyric I just adore - it's real talk. Texas talks like that, y'all. That damn dog keeps barkin, honey. Oh, just wait, it'll get gone soon 'nough. It's fixin' ta. 

"Judge a Man by the Woman" is a lovely ballad, nice and short and simple and romantic. "You judge a day by the sun, but you judge a man by the woman." Brent Rowan on the electric strings adds extra emotion to the bridge. Neal sounds a little less country and a little more easy-listening, but lately ballads just kinda do that. Nevertheless, it's a lovely song, and it's great to have you back, Neal.

"Mouth" just may be my favorite song on the album. The song starts with listing how great everyone else in the family is good at other stuff, but he can stick his foot in his mouth. Then come rather embarrassing situations including complimenting a woman on her pregnant glow when she's not pregnant and accidentally hitting on a guy. The tune to this song sounds a lot like the song "Dixie Lullaby" from Clint Black's album D'Lectrified. It's fun and folksy and would draw swing dancers from miles around. I laughed out loud the entire first time I heard the song...and the second and third times. My five year old also loves it. It's rather catchy. I'd love to hear it on the radio, but I can't imagine it'll make it there. It's not main stream sounding enough. Bah-humbug. Blasted radio. That's okay. Neal's got some more that are radio friendly on this album, and that's going to make people buy this album.

Speakin' of radio-friendly songs. "Shotgun Rider" is a fun and upbeat tune with lyrics which remind one of Luke Bryan's current hit song "I Don't Want This Night to End." The coolest line is probably when he says "Every Bonnie needs a Clyde beside her." Quite a few hit artists ganged up to write this one for us: Rhett Akins, Dallas Davidson, Keith Anderson and Ben Hayslip, famous for (most recently) Josh Turner's "All Over Me," Brad Paisley's "Start a Band," Keith Anderson's own "Every Time I Hear Your Name," and funnily enough "I Don't Want This Night to End" (respectively). What a team, and what a turnout on the song.

"That's You" brings back a nice little ballad is written by Neal McCoy, Clint Daniels, and Jeff Hyde. It sounds a lot like a Brad Paisley song. It's sweet and not too slow, and perfectly romantic. It's also radio friendly, as I'm sure you gathered by my comparing it to Brad Paisley. Honestly, though, it's more of a Brad Paisley B-side, but those are pretty darn good, too. I'm excited to see that Clint Daniels is writing stuff with Neal. I'm a fan.

I cannot stop myself from thinking of the song "Get an Ugly Woman to Marry You" every time I hear it, thanks to the final line. You'll see. It's a fun song.

"Lucky Enough" has the best line in all of country music (for today): "This F-150 is worth its weight in gold with you here riding with me down a back road." The electric guitars (including Brent Rowan!) really make the song rock, and I mean that in a good way. It's some rockin' country. Man. I really love this CD. Have I mentioned lately that I love my job? I do.

"Every Fire" is the bad song on the album if there is a bad song on the album. The lyrics are weak, and the music sounds a little too much like the sound track of "Top Gun." It's not too surprising, since it's a remake of a song Shenandoah put out in 1994 on their "In the Vicinity of the Heart" album, their fastest selling album up til then. I suppose that cutting a Shenandoah song clears Neal of this being the worst song on the album. The rest of the songs are better, but this one is still good, so we're going pretty right, y'all.

"That's Just How She Gets" is a cover of a really fun song done originally by  Adam Harvey, an Australian singer who released it back in '05. Neal's voice only improves the song that started out crazy fun.

Another fun remake is "Borderline Crazy," originally done by Kevin Fowler - Texas Country Extraordinairre. Props to Texas-born Neal McCoy for bringing a song by another, lesser-known Texas singer to light.

"Van Gogh" really, no I mean really, sounds like a Barry Manilow song. 

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