Toby Keith - "Toby Keith" Feb 17, 2015 19:00:49 GMT -5
Post by StevePulaski on Feb 17, 2015 19:00:49 GMT -5
Toby Keith (1993)
By: Toby Keith
By: Toby Keith
Toby Keith's 1993 debut album, who's cover boasts a clean-cut, dress-shirt wearing, mullet-sporting Keith, really bringing yesteryear vibes, reminds anyone who is heavily familiar with the raucous country star's contemporary activity that his pioneering days were all about establishing a presence as a crooner, more or less. Songs about hard drinking, hard partying, and appreciating the working class folk didn't kick in until his sophomore album and his early 2000's work, while a great deal of his original hits centered around the cowboy life and lovesick blues.
Toby Keith is an effective time-stamp, as it reminds of the 1990's in country music, a decade populated by low-key artists sporting big songs that either resonated with a certain demographic or provided them with a great sense of fun and urgency. Toby Keith kicks off with the album's lead single "Should've Been a Cowboy," a longtime favorite of mine and Keith's first hit, respectively, telling of how Keith should've chosen the cowboy life and referencing a great deal of Western Television and film in order to prove his point. The song has a reflective vibe to it, as if a man is seriously reflecting on his life and how he should've pursued a life of ropin' and ridin'. The tune is charismatic, to say the least, and a deserved hit, effectively boasting Keith's low-pitched voice and his ability to take a crack at witty song writing.
Following the album's lead single are a barrage of shockingly somber tunes, such as "Wish I Didn't Know Now," a song that went over my head as a child, but leaves me with wet eyes whenever I hear it. The song concerns a man's vague suspicions his wife may be stepping out on him, but they are suspicions he believes are basic paranoia and sweeps him under the wrong, until one day, the long sought after truth emerges and it's something he wishes he didn't know. Now, he's left in an awkward state of wishing he didn't know now what he didn't know then and took the blissfully ignorant route. Criticize Keith, his opinions, and his occasionally corny lyricism, but don't say the man doesn't have a deep understanding of heartbreak on an adulterous level, channeling Daryle Singletary's "I Let Her Lie" with such a heartbreaking ballad.
Successors like "Valentine," a song about a man's love for his long-gone woman on the most heartbreaking day of the year for singles, channels comparably sad territory, "A Little Less Talk and a Lot More Action," taken from a 1992 Hank Williams, Jr. song, is another long-time favorite of mine, almost being a prophetic anthem for what Keith would later become in his career, and "Close But No Guitar," sending off a great deal of the tearjerkers and country heartbreak tunes with a witty play-on-words that serves as something shockingly catchy and infectious.
Toby Keith doesn't break new ground, but it proudly compliments already charted territory at that. The album is quick, but never too breezy that it's digested and dismissed. If nothing else, it furthers my opinion that 1990's country had a distinct personality that segregates itself from the rest of the genre in the best way possible; it was heavily built on weepers and the songs boasting high spirits were a rousing great time.
Recommended tracks (in order): "Should've Been a Cowboy," "Wish I Didn't Know Now," "A Little Less Talk and a Lot More Action," "Valentine," and "Close But No Guitar."