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Tim McGraw - 'Emotional Traffic' Album Review

Tim McGraw serves up some musical fusion.

About.com Rating 2.5 Star Rating

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emotional traffic album cover

Tim McGraw - 'Emotional Traffic' (2011)

Image courtesy of Curb Records

Tim McGraw's new album Emotional Traffic has been sitting on the shelf for two years. It's been the subject of dueling lawsuits between the country singer and Curb Records.

As of this writing, the lawsuit has been resolved (in McGraw's favor), and Tim McGraw's 11th record has been released (his last with Curb).

Despite the delay, Emotional Traffic is an energetic effort from the country singer that veers into new stylistic terrain. He may be pushing 40, but don't call it a midlife crisis.

Tim McGraw, Alt-Rocker

The Telecasters come out on "Halo," the opening track for Emotional Traffic. It sparkles with six-string noodling, wisps of pedal steel, and a cranked-up chorus featuring arcane lines about crawling "outta my cradle" and "into my black hole."

McGraw gets less emo on the top-down love song "Right Backatcha." Synthesizers and Autotune abound as McGraw recounts how he loves the way his baby loves him. It's a pleasantly committed number in the style of Brad Paisley -- minus the humor that might counterbalance the soft-serve sentiment.

Tim McGraw, Soul Man

McGraw switches to R&B crooner on "One Part Two Part," written by soul singer Big Dee Irwin, offering the following recipe for love: "One part right, and two parts wrong."

"Only Human," McGraw's hopeless duet with "Sexy Love" singer Ne-Yo, brings back fonder memories of  "Over and Over" (McGraw's collaboration with rapper Nelly).

"I Will Not Fall Down" is another misstep; the ballad has none of the energy but half of the lines of Chumbawamba's "Tubthumping." To wit: "I will not fall down / I will not fall down / I will not fall down without getting up."

Tim McGraw, Pop Star

"The One" sizzles with organ fills and spring-loaded guitar; it's pure ear candy and sounds like a Sugar Ray song form the '90s; McGraw is always on top of the latest trends.

The last-call come-on "Hey Now" is McGraw's attempt to initiate some 2:00 a.m. action on an evacuated dance floor. His line? "Hey now / It don't seem that late now." Originally released on 2010's Number One Hits, "Felt Good on My Lips" is a falling-in-love song that has a lot to say about cherry lip gloss.

Tim McGraw, Country Singer

The acoustic guitar finally comes out. Here it is: "Better Than I Used to Be" the highlight of Emotional Traffic. "I ain't no angel / I got a few more dances with the devil," McGraw sings, sharing his thoughts on growing up and facing who he is, faults and all.

Lessons Learned:

While Tim McGraw is an able singer who can handle a wide range of material, it doesn't overcome uneven songwriting. Emotional Traffic never quite adds up. By the final dirge "Die By My Own," I was ready to check out rather than hit replay. Still, the album has a handful of fine songs worth checking out (see below).

Best Songs on Emotional Traffic

  • "Better Than I Used to Be"
  • "Felt Good on My Lips"
  • "Hey Now"

Track List for Emotional Traffic

1. "Halo"
2. "Right Back Atcha Babe"
3. "One Part Two Part"
4. "I Will Not Fall Down"
5. "The One"
6. "Better Than I Used to Be"
7. "Touchdown Jesus"
8. "The One That Got Away"
9. "Felt Good on My Lips"
10. "Hey Now"
11. "Only Human" featuring Ne-Yo
12. "Die by My Own Hand"

Release Date: January 24, 2012

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