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Toby Keith - 'Clancy's Tavern' Album Review

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clancy's tavern album cover

Toby Keith - 'Clancy's Tavern' (2011)

Image courtesy of Universal Music Records

Another year, another Toby Keith album. Last year's Bullets in the Gun featured some of the country singer's best reviews -- and worst sales -- in years.

How does Clancy's Tavern compare?

Red, White, Blue, Etc.

Clancy's Tavern starts out with "Made in America," aimed at fans of Keith's earlier ultra-patriotic anthems. We've been here before, but Keith obviously knows what he's good at. Some have noted similarities between "Made in America" and "Else" by Built to Spill, but whatever the derivation the tune rocks.

Even if I don't understand it. Lyrically, Keith's jingoist rhetoric is toned down to mere protectionism: A man's father is brokehearted over "seein' foreign cars/Filled with fuel that isn't ours/And wearin' cotton he didn't grow."

The message is buy American. I think? Or maybe: Americans are made in America? Okay.

"I Need to Hear a Country Song" is about someone, possibly an American (Keith doesn't specify), needing to hear a country song real bad. "I need to hear a loser crying," Keith sings, "Songs about a love that's dying / Lying cheating to the bone / Three chord stone cold country song." Wish fulfilled.

It's not a terrible song, it's kinda good, and its relaxed feel (and that non-enthusiastic sentiment) is representative of the album as a whole.

Cruisin' with Keith

Exemplars of the album's laid-back ethos are "Just Another Sundown," "South of You," and obviously "Chillaxin." They make me think Keith has recently visited a Club Med resort, or been listening to a lot of Jimmie Buffett. Quite possibly both.

In honor of "chillaxin," which combines the words "chilling" and "relaxing," I've taken the courtesy of mashing the lyrics of all three songs into one giant, ultra-laid-back anthem.


Just another sundown
I need to recharge my battery
No map, no plan
No place to be

I will sail this ship forever
Somewhere south of you
Maybe find a paradise
Put this whole broken world on ice


The Good Stuff

"Red Solo Cup" is probably the stupidest song on Clancy's Tavern, and also the best. It's a drunken ode to a mass-produced drinking receptacle (Made In America!), that's as infectious and mind-altering as the sweet nectar it transports from keg to mandible. Put it on your playlist of songs to get drunk to.

If you bought the Deluxe Edition of Clancy's Tavern, it wasn't a complete waste of money. It's got four live tracks from a show in New York City, but hold back the Pace Picante lynch mob. All of them have more energy than any of the album's other songs. There's a blistering cover of Waylon Jennings's "High Time (You Quit Your Lowdown Ways)," Buck Owens's long-hauler "Truck Drivin' Man," Three Dog Night's "Shambala" (?!), and Chuck Berry's phone-tag melodrama "Memphis."

This dude rocks. And I am very confused.

Best songs on Clancy's Tavern:

  • "Chillaxin"
  • "High Time (You Quit Your Lowdown Ways)"
  • "Made in America"
  • "Red Solo Cup."

Track list of Clancy's Tavern:

1. "Made in America"  
2. "I Need to Hear a Country Song" 
3. "Clancy's Tavern"
4. "Tryin' to Fall in Love"
5. "Just Another Sundown"
6. "Beers Ago"  
7. "South of You"  
8. "Club Zydeco Moon"          
9. "I Won't Let You Down"     
10. "Red Solo Cup"  
11. "Chill-axin'
12. "High Time (You Quit Your Low Down Ways)"  (Deluxe edition bonus track)
13. "Truck Drivin' Man" (Deluxe edition bonus track)           
14. "Shambala" (Deluxe edition bonus track)
15. "Memphis" (Deluxe edition bonus track)

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