Brooks & Dunn - "Steers & Stripes" May 5, 2015 23:55:36 GMT -5
Post by StevePulaski on May 5, 2015 23:55:36 GMT -5
Steers & Stripes (2001)
By: Brooks & Dunn
By: Brooks & Dunn
Brooks & Dunn welcomed the new decade with Steers & Stripes, their seventh album, which sounds noticeably more polished and pristine in its production than their previous albums. The clear, almost glossy production makes one recall how quietly the duo evoked their own simpler, questionably amateurish sound with their first three or four releases before ushering in a slicker breed of country music. With this new sound, the duo strike up another collection of favorable ditties that impress because of their simultaneous simplicity and emotional weight.
Being that this album was released during the time that I was obsessed with country music (between 1998 - 2004), despite only being a toddler, I kept trying to pinpoint what song from this album I loved, as none of the track names were ringing bells. Once I heard the opening to "Ain't Nothing 'Bout You," I instantly recalled the memories of watching the flashy video on the Country Music Television. The song bears its own blend of rowdy, western country while staying true to the principles of being romantic, a feat Brooks and Dunn accomplish quite fittingly with every passing ballad.
Unlike in Borderline, where Brooks and Dunn stuck to a more midtempo flow, they bounce around here, transitioning from more raucous tunes to songs with a somber edge. "Only in America" is the song that ostensibly panders to post-9/11 patriotism until one sees the song predates the terrorist attacks by five months, making Brooks and Dunn slightly ahead of their time. With that, the song is a decent little romp about the diversity of American talent in the country's next generation of talented individuals. Followup songs like the vague-Mariachi influenced "My Heart is Lost to You" evoke a great sense of heartbreak without being too preachy, and "Go West" exhibits ideas of waywardness and angst amongst lovers, only added by Kix Brooks' easy-listening, distinct voice.
Steers & Stripes, however, concludes with well-meaning but ultimately forgettable songs like "Lucky Me, Lonely You," about a man who recognizes a lonely woman while out one night and "I Fall," about a man persistently falling in love with the woman he's with every time he sees her. Songs like these recall the pandering of the duo's sophomore release Hard Workin' Man, which is only more disappointing when we realize that Brooks and Dunn are capable of so much more. Luckily, they've proved themselves worthy of praise by the aforementioned tracks, and even "Unloved," a song that reassures the heartbroken, weary, or even suicidal that somebody still loves them, may manage to squeeze a tear out of you, proving at least adequate pathos from this duo's particular effort.
Steers & Stripes surprises with its glossier country sound, but it's reassuring to note that the songwriting and singing talents of Brooks and Dunn are still in place here. While previous albums put heavy emphasis on what the duo can do when they are given the microphone separately, this release shows what happens when they share it, with songs bursting with life thanks to Brooks' laidback tone and Dunn's expressiveness. There's a hearty, downhome quality about Steers & Stripes, despite its corporate gloss, that makes it shine and a truly impressive piece of work.
Recommended tracks (in order): "Ain't Nothing 'Bout You," "My Heart is Lost to You," "Go West," and "Unloved."