Tim McGraw, ‘Emotional Traffic’ – Album Review
We're taught to not judge a book by its cover, but sometimes that's a pretty good place to start. The jacket and official press photos provided by Curb Nashville give fans an idea of what to expect from Tim McGraw's 'Emotional Traffic.'
The collection of songs is soulful, introspective and often dark and doleful. This is no longer the same singer who gave us 'Down on the Farm' and 'Where the Green Grass Grows.' Nuevo-McGraw is polished, neatly trimmed and prone to wearing argyle. The music reflects the man on 'Emotional Traffic.'
McGraw's eleventh studio album isn't the most fun project of his career -- even the playful 'Right Back Atcha Babe' is built around a somber chord structure -- but it's clear that's not what he's going for. Previously released cuts like 'Halo' and 'Better Than I Used to Be' are more indicative of the tone, with the latter being the best song of the 12 ('Die by My Own Hand,' written and previously recorded by Halfway to Hazard, is a close second). Both of these feel like honest reflections of the singer.
'Touchdown Jesus' is a better inspirational tune than the will-this-song-ever-end ballad 'I Will Not Fall Down,' but the title will cause more than a few eyes to roll. Give it a chance. It's a little cheesy, but if you open up to it the song will hit you like Martina McBride's 'Love's the Only House' from 1999.
The story-centric fare on 'Emotional Traffic' (including 'Halo' and the faceless 'The One That Got Away') are dips on a ride that peaks early and remains mostly flat from start to finish. 'Only Human' is another that goes nowhere. Instead of using sharp details or a creative way to relay a message, the songwriters dipped from their seventh grade song book. "Finding out you're only human is hard / I wanna change the world, but I don't know where to start," McGraw sings.
McGraw's claim that this is his best album ever may be a stretch -- there just aren't enough moments of "Oh my gosh! Turn it up!" Instead, one gets moody dinner music, or an album that's best enjoyed alone in one's bedroom or car after a very long day.