5 Things We Learned From Garth Brooks’ ‘Man Against Machine’ Listening Party
Garth Brooks shared his new album 'Man Against Machine' with selected media on Friday (Oct. 31), revealing most of the 14 songs that will make up his first studio album in 14 years. The legend helped write only three songs, admitting that he needs to catch up to today's songwriters who are "head and shoulders above" the men and women he worked with during his mid-'90s prime.
While songs like the title track and 'Cold Like That' (a Steven Lee Olsen co-written ballad he says could be a Nickelback song) stretch his sound, the singer says much of what fans will hear is similar to the music he's always released. "We don't change, we just don't," Brooks assured.
Many of the same musicians and studio technicians he's relied on to cut every album prior to his 2000 retirement have returned to help him cut 'Man Against Machine.' Look for it at GhostTunes and at physical retailers on Nov. 11. There is also going to be a limited edition black album for the first in line.
Garth was asked why he looks so angry on the cover of 'Man Against Machine' -- after all, he's a pretty nice guy in real life. The singer explained that the 'machine' is the modern music industry, an industry that has made it hard on itself. That's who he's giving the tough-guy look to. The title track kicks off the album. It's a soulful anthem with a hard-to-miss, blue collar message that name-checks John Henry in the chorus. Brooks made it clear his way of doing things is as much a reaction to how the industry works today as it is a continuation of how he's always gone about his business.
A few things changed since Brooks first announced his album in July. Most significant is that 'Man Against Machine' won't be a double album. Instead, he's going to split it into two standalone albums, one released on Nov. 11 and the other likely available in 2016. All retailers will be able to sell the new project, not just Walmart as in the past.
A rambling heartbreaker called 'Midnight Train' is an "epic piece" for Brooks. He revealed that his production team timed and tuned actual train sounds to include in this song about a man who can't outrun the memory of an old lover. Melissa Peirce and Matthew A. Rossi wrote this track. It's not the only that mentions locomotives. "I could be the train for a change / You could be the one tied to the track," Brooks sings during 'Cold Like That.'
Brooks says he regrets saying there's a song on 'Man Against Machine' that rivals 'The Dance' for him personally, because his fans kind of went nuts. In truth, 'Mom' doesn't draw from the same story as his earlier hit, but it's equally as powerful. The Don Sampson, Wynn Varble-penned ballad is a conversation between God and an unborn child. "She'll put you on a path that will bring you back to me," Brooks sings. Along with 'Send 'Em Down the Road,' it represents the album's weepers. Parents should grab a tissue before listening to either.
The album title and cover art let the industry know Brooks is back and not especially happy about how his house has been tended to in the years since he retired. 'People Loving People' was chosen as his first single because it carried the message that the icon wanted fans to hear as his first communication since coming back. The rest of the songs aren't aimed to make a point, but his reliance on "old school" methods of promotion and production are a clear statement that while he's paying attention to modern trends, he's pretty happy riding the bucking bronco that got him this far.