Album Spotlight: Toby Keith, ’35 MPH Town’
With the title track and "Drunk Americans" already at radio, there are few surprises on Toby Keith’s 35 MPH Town album. This isn’t a bad thing. Keith’s mix of stinging heartbreak songs and rowdy bar-rockers is as reliable as high tide.
35 MPH Town is a more traditional album than any the singer has released recently. Songs like “Haggard, Hank & Her” and “What She Left Behind” are true tear-in-your-beer country songs, with loads of pedal steel and slow-dancing guitar.
“It ain’t what she took that messes with my mind / It’s what she left behind,” Keith sings during a well-written, heartbreaking ballad that comes halfway through 35 MPH Town.
Jimmy Buffett’s appearance on “Sailboat for Sale” is a sign that beach-y things are coming, but “Rum Is the Reason” is the more tropical of the two. “Sailboat” is a mid-tempo conversation between two men that recalls an early ‘80s collaboration. There are a few life lessons to be learned from these two veterans.
Find tempo with “Good Gets Here” and “10 Foot Pole,” two of the album’s signature tracks. These are for fans of “How Do You Like Me Now” and “Whiskey Girl.” Both are guitar-drenched, tongue-slightly-in-cheek honky-tonkers. Keith hasn’t found much success with the singles released from 35 MPH Town, but the 10 tracks are surprisingly diverse. It’s a short, but entertaining ride that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
The single, "35 MPH Town," is the title song of the album, and is sure to stir up opinions. The realistic — maybe cynical — song tells the story of a once safe and happy small town that seems to have gone astray:
“You just wouldn’t believe it, kids growing up without Jesus, good thing your daddy ain’t here to see this now / They stay higher than the water tower in this 35 MPH Town.”
Penned by Bobby Pinson and Keith himself, this single highlights his powerful vocal presence as well as his undeniable ability to tell a story while simultaneously conveying a message. This tune, like many others that he has released to radio recently, acts as a statement on our culture. The words may be harsh, but as he plays the track during live shows many fans will sway with the easy beat and nod in agreement.
"Drunk Americans" and "Rum Is the Reason" are also singles from 35 MPH Town.
Keith is producing his project alongside the co-writer of the title track, Bobby Pinson. Pinson has worked alongside the Big Dog Daddy in the past, receiving credit on many of his previous singles, including "Made in America," "Beers Ago" and "I Like Girls That Drink Beer."
Collaborations with songwriters Scotty Emerick and Rivers Rutherford will be featured on the record. One other cut that we know made the album is "Drunk Americans," which was released last year. This track, penned by Brandy Clark, Shane McAnally and Bob DePiero, is a woozy waltz that hints heavily at social commentary.
Toby Keith, 35 MPH Town Track Listing:
1. "Drunk Americans"
2. "Good Gets Here"
3. "35 MPH Town"
4. "Rum Is the Reason"
5. "What She Left Behind"
6. "10 Foot Pole"
7. "Haggard, Hank and Her"
8. "Sailboat for Sale" (Feat. Jimmy Buffett)
9. "Every Time I Drink I Fall in Love"
10. "Beautiful Stranger"
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