Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Tim McGraw "Sundown Heaven Town" Album Review

      Tim McGraw has always been a mystery to me.  almost every year, he will release on of my favorite singles of the year, and he always has one I despise as well.  Perhaps he is good at being well-balanced and playing both sides of the fence.  Perhaps he is inconsistent.  Perhaps he simply follows the trends and doesn't have any real backbone to his sound.  In short, the answer is yes.  So, Sundown Heaven Town is pretty much what you'd expect:  some great country songs, some mediocre filler, and some total head-scratchers.  But, in Tim's defense, this album leans way more toward the great side.  For a guy who seemed to be heading towards a serious midlife crisis, Tim McGraw released a pretty solid album.

     The album really gets off on the right foot with the first three songs.  "Overrated" is a pretty good pop-country jam.  It has enough of a sing-a-long melody to be a big hit, but has very twangy instrumentation.  The lyrics are critical of the materialistic society of today, which is a very different direction than his "Truck yeah" garbage.  "City Lights" is vintage Tim McGraw, where he sings a catchy as can be tune with some cool steel guitar licks.  This song won't change the world or make you cry, but nobody can listen to this and tell me it is anything but country music.  I'm a fan.  "Shotgun Rider" is not really a standout song, but it is country enough to make me like it and sounds like it has potential to be a big radio hit.  "Diamond Rings and Old Barstools" features harmony from Catherine Dunn, and may be the best song on the album.  This is the kind of sad old love song that I wish Nashville wouldn't have left behind in the past few years.  Who knows if it will see the light of day at radio, but it would be a song of The Year contender in my book.  "Meanwhile Back At Mama's" (Full "Meanwhile Back At Mama's" Single Review Here) and "Last Turn Home" each equate deal with love and memories of home, though "Meanwhile.." is more subdued while "Last Turn Home" has a much bigger sound.  Neither are bad, but I much prefer "Meanwhile...".  "Portland, Maine" has that cool, adult contemporary vibe that Tim McGraw can do so well when he wants to.  The moody style of this song makes it a great rainy day companion, and a really solid song on the album.  "Still On The Line" is pretty overproduced so it hardly counts as a "country" song, but as a pop song it is fantastic.  The melancholy lyrics are exactly what good country music is built upon, but the production style is just a little heavy for my taste.  It is still a very enjoyable song.

     A really good thing about this album is that apart from two tracks, it doesn't really offend.  "Dust", "Keep On Truckin'", "Sick Of Me", "Words Are Medicine", and most of the bonus tracks are all decent enough songs.  I wouldn't purchase all of them for my collection, but you can listen to most of this album all the way through without getting angry at the stupidity.  Of course, that excludes two giant turds on the album.  "Lookin' For That Girl" is a disaster (Full "Lookin' For That Girl" Single Review Here).  It tanked on radio, and it really shouldn't even have made this album.  It is the epitome of a cry for relevancy, and the rest of this album proves Tim doesn't need those gimmicks to make viable commercial music.  Also, "The View" from the deluxe edition is just... wow.  I don't even know.  It has to be parody.  I have no idea what Tim was thinking, but it isn't the least bit catchy, there isn't one iota of it that could be called country, and Tim simply cannot hit the ridiculous notes in the choppy chorus.  It is a hot mess if I've ever seen one.  You take away those two steaming piles, you have yourself a decent to pretty good album here.

     Tim McGraw may have found that missing something that he lost with this album.  He may still release some odd songs in the future, but hopefully the success of the good songs on this album will steer Tim in a direction where he continues to make grown-up music, since he is, in fact, a grown man (despite the fact that he looks like a leather saddlebag with an eating disorder these days).  Sundown Heaven Town is a pretty decent album with a few stellar songs and not a lot to get angry about.  This is a solid step in the right direction for Tim McGraw, and country music in general.

Standout Tracks: "Overrated", "City Lights", "Meanwhile back At Mama's", "Diamond Rings and Old Barstools" (featuring Catherine Dunn, "Portland, Maine", "Still On The Line"

"Meanwhile Back At Mama's"

"City Lights"

"Diamond Rings And Old Barstools"



  1. I have honestly never liked Tim Mcgraw's music. I have found that his voice is good but not great. What are your thoughts on Taylor Swift?

    1. I agree, he doesn't have a spectacular voice. Tim has made his money on solid song selection. He picks songs that are catchy and memorable enough to hide his vocal flaws. Nothing wrong with that.
      I have mixed feelings on Taylor. I think she is a remarkable role model and talented songwriter. She isn't an incredibly strong vocalist, and other than a few mistakes, she has hid that well in her song choice, much like McGraw. I actually agree with and respect her decision to leave country. I hated her pop-country drivel like "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together", and I'm glad she had enough respect for the genre to take that stuff where it belongs. That being said, I'll miss songs like "Mean", "Tim McGraw", and "White Horse" on country radio, because they were very well-written, and also because we need as many strong country female artists as we can get right now.