Toby Keith - "Bullets in the Gun" Mar 16, 2015 12:06:27 GMT -5
Post by StevePulaski on Mar 16, 2015 12:06:27 GMT -5
Bullets in the Gun (2010)
By: Toby Keith
By: Toby Keith
After getting on my last Toby Keith high in 2012 following the release of his sixteenth studio album Hope on the Rocks, I immediately doubled back to a few of his other recent releases, one of them being Bullets in the Gun. After about two or three songs, I recall being bored and shutting the album off, returning to Hope on the Rocks. Three years later, with more context put to Keith's career along with a few little life experiences under my belt, I return to Bullets in the Gun and emerge with a glowing recommendation. This is one of Keith's most impressive albums to date, as there's no bad or average song in the entire set; everything is a rollicking, free-spirited good time and an incredibly fun trip down a trail that Keith loves to blaze and conquer.
The titular track kicks off things in a darker, broodier mood, but the album descends back into Keith's good-natured comfort zone quite quickly. His tone, however, seems more brash on this album, a bit more assertive, right down to the serious look he bears on the album cover and a thicker, fuller beard. This is one of Keith's most assertive works in terms of sticking to tried and true country, equipped with all the sounds, instrumentation, and lyricism that have made the genre what it is today. "Somewhere Else," the album's third and final single, makes its presence early and echoes that of "Blue Bedroom," a cut off of Keith's 1999 album How Do You Like Me Now?!, as it details the effects of a woman leaving the man and going about his day without her. Keith remarks how his bedroom is as cold as the TV dinner he is eating, and the only things he has to look forward to are a cigarette and his traditional beer and shot of Johnnie Walker Black Label at the local bar. I love these kinds of songs because they tackle loneliness and sadness without being too preachy or wrapped up in a sense of emotionally manipulative trite. Telling it like it is is a specialty of Keith's, whether you like it or not, and "Somewhere Else" does so in an impressively serious and realistic manner.
"Trailerhood," another single, yet again proves Keith can nail descriptions of a culture and its inhabitants in an infectious and honest manner, detailing the antics brought on by those living in a trailer park, "Think About You All of the Time" infuses a blues sound into traditional country lyrics about a man who no longer misses his ex-girlfriend, but still constantly thinks about her, and "Drive it on Home" is so heavy with the guitars and the drums it's less country and more straight up rock and roll. Keith's ability to pull so much together in such little time (less than forty minutes, not counting the four throwaway live tracks on the deluxe edition), that's it no wonder he has the longevity and creativity freedom to essentially do what he wants with his albums.
This is also one of the few Toby Keith albums that doesn't bear that many softer, more emotional ballads. Probably the strongest one of the like is "Kissin' in the Rain," reflecting on the youthful days where Keith and a gaggle of pals would go up to a lake, meet girls, and wind up sharing romantic encounters in the pouring rain. Again, the ability to evoke a sense of nostalgia is another fantastic trait Keith bears, but rather than using it to milk emotions, he uses it to tell stories and help audiences almost create memories through songs. Bullets in the Gun, overall, would be a beautiful introduction for someone who lost touch with Toby Keith or brewed animosity following his comments about the Iraq War. He reminds that, while times change and opinions on him are divisive, his music still stands by itself as lean, mean, and full of energy and talent.
Recommended tracks (in order): "Somewhere Else," "Drive it on Home," "Trailerhood," "Think About You All of the Time," and "Kissin' in the Rain."