Album Spotlight: Tim McGraw, ‘Damn Country Music’
Tim McGraw’s Damn Country Music album re-introduces the singer's love for stone-cold country classics. While contemporary sounds sneak through on tracks like “Love Runs,” it’s the raw arrangements that surround the title track and especially “Don’t Make Me Feel at Home” that stand out.
“Don’t Make Me Feel at Home” is this album’s “Red Ragtop,” a song that will rub wrong a certain group of people. The ballad is a story of a man preparing to cheat on his wife. Who he’s with is open for debate, and an argument could certainly be made he’s with a prostitute. The magic trick McGraw pulls is bringing real sympathy to this character. It’s a stunning song that would stand out in any decade.
The beginning of the album evokes memories of Sundown Heaven Town. Rambling drum loops and understated lyrics pin down early tracks like “Here Tonight,” “Losin’ You” and “How I’ll Always Be,” the best song on Damn Country Music.
“I’ll always be a fan of old stray dogs and guitars praying / One-room churches, back road walks and front porch-swingin' / Sunset skies, bonfire nights, I love the simple things / That’s how I’ll always be,” he sings at the chorus.
Daughter Gracie does indeed bring new energy to “Here Tonight,” while McGraw’s roots show as he sings “Damn Country Music.” At the end, “Humble and Kind” closes his most personal album in years. It’s nothing short of a letter to his children, and it’s wonderfully raw and vulnerable. A younger McGraw would not, and could not, have gone there. But you don’t need this album to be reminded that McGraw ages well.
An easy love song called "Top of the World" is the first single from Damn Country Music. In recent years McGraw has held off on releasing a new album until two singles had worked their way up the charts, but this project's initial success will rely on his reputation and the strength of this one, mellow country song.
Byron Gallimore returns for his 14th project with McGraw. He's been at the helm of every one of the singer's albums, working side by side with him since Everywhere from 1997. McGraw co-produced Damn Country Music.
McGraw released the full track listing for Damn Country Music when he announced the album on Sept. 17. Eleven songs make up the standard edition, while three bonus tracks are on the deluxe.
The album's closing track was particularly difficult to record:
1. "Here Tonight" (Feat. Gracie McGraw) (T.J. Osborne, John Osborne, Brett Beavers)
2. "Losin’ You" (Rodney Clawson, Matt Dragstrem, Tom Douglas)
3. "How I’ll Always Be" (Jeremy Stover, Chris Janson, Jamie Paulin)
4. "Damn Country Music" (Cary Barlowe, Josh Thompson, Jessi Alexander)
5. "Love Runs" (Brad Warren, Brett Warren, Andrew Dorff)
6. "What You’re Lookin’ For" (Brett James, Angelo Petraglia, Troy Verges)
7. "Top of the World" (Jimmy Robbins, Jon Nite, Josh Osborne)
8. "Don’t Make Me Feel at Home" (Kim Williams, L. David Lewis)
9. "Want You Back" (Hillary Lindsey, Ashley Gorley, Clawson)
10. "California" (With Big & Rich) (John Rich, Clawson, Vicky McGhee)
11. "Humble and Kind" (Lori McKenna)
Deluxe Edition Bonus Tracks:
12. "Everybody’s Lookin’"
13. "Kiss a Girl"
14. "Country and Western"
Big & Rich may be the most famous collaborators on McGraw's new album, but his daughter Gracie is who fans are most anxious to hear from. "Here Tonight" is a sort of stepping out for the 18-year-old college freshman. The two performed the song together during McGraw's August show in Nashville:
Damn Country Music is in stores and online Nov. 6.
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