Track by Track Dissection
Tim McGraw’s “Two Lanes of Freedom”
Country Music Megastar Tim McGraw released his first album, “Two Lanes of Freedom” on February 5, 2013, via his new label, Big Machine Label Group. The album clearly displays that the chains of his past have been unlocked and his musical persona has been released. The album is solid from start to finish with flashes of brilliance that brings us back to his past country music dominance. This project is easily his best effort since 2007’s “Let It Go”. Below, I give my first person dissection of each track on the Deluxe album. I am excited to see McGraw perform with his wife at the Venetian in Las Vegas (which I will be reviewing next week) as well as on his own headlining tour this summer.
1. Two Lanes of Freedom
The first song of the album is the title cut and it is vintage Tim McGraw. The song starts off soft and soulful, but, at forty-five seconds, the drums kick in and his voice soars for the rest of the track. It is a simple song lyrically, telling a story of a man freely driving around back roads with his woman by his side. However, the chords in the song showcase Tim’s voice perfectly as he reaches impressive high and low notes with ease. I could pinpoint five tracks on the album that would do extremely well at country radio if they were released as singles and this is certainly one of them. I envision him kicking off his summer concerts with “Two Lanes of Freedom” as the first song of his setlist. He performs this song with the soulful dramatics that long-time Tim McGraw fans have come to love.
2. One Of Those Nights
Currently sitting in the Top 5 on Mediabase, “One of Those Nights” creates an atmosphere of sheer happiness through the themes of love and parties. The track excels with the way McGraw uses tempo to his advantage. The chorus is slower, but the verses display a rapid word-play which, at times, boarders a rapping style. The song is sexy and fun, perfect for the anticipation of an early Friday night when you are hoping for a great night. I expect this single to reach number 1 before February leaves us.
3. Friend of A Friend
Every good country album needs a heartbreak song and “Friend of a Friend” is Tim’s take on one. The song is about a man who is trying to give off the impression to his ex that he does not care, although he knows everything about her. To me, the man is a boarder-line stalker, justifying to himself why he knows everything about the woman who clearly left him a long time ago. Musically, the song flows with Tim’s voice rollicking up and down throughout.
4. Southern Girl
Another sexy song, showcasing Tim’s twang and fun side. It has catchy lyrics talking about what men love most about Southern Girls. This is another song that I feel would do well on country radio. The song does some fun things with the equalizer at the end of the chorus that makes the song very appealable. It is not a deep song by any means, but has a pop-country feel to it without selling out on the Tim McGraw brand.
5. Truck Yeah
This song was released as a single on July 3, 2013 and became Tim’s highest solo chart debut at #22 on the Country Billboard Charts. It went on to peak at #10. As a radio cut, I could never buy into this song. It seemed like a sloppy and stupid topic making all most no sense to me at all. However, when I saw him perform it live on the Brothers of the Sun Tour with Kenny Chesney, I saw it for what is was, a fun song, especially when played live and loud. Certainly not the song with the most quality, but it obviously had some appeal to the larger masses.
6. Nashville Without You
This, for me, is one of the best songs on the album. While I don’t think it will necessarily be a single, it has a beautiful tune combined with hidden dedications galore. Not only does he pay homage to the City of Nashville and its fans, but he really thanks all of the artists who have come before him. With clear compliments to Willie Nelson (“hey blue eyes, crying in the rain”), Johnny Cash (“hey fire, burning round the ring”), Dwight Yoakam (“no long white Cadillac”), Hank Williams Jr. (“no country boy can survive”) and the list goes on. I would love him to release this as a single, but it may not have enough commercial appeal as some of the others. Either way, it is a real standout song to me with a unique way of dedicating a song to a number of country legends.
7. Book Of John
A song about a book found in the attic of a family’s house of memories. It has a feeling of nostalgia throughout as the family recounts all the memories that go along with the pictures described in the song. At the end of the song, you learn that photo book was made by their deceased father. It is one of those songs that make country music great, a song which can tug at your heart while painting a descriptive picture in your mind as it is sung.
8. Annie I Owe You A Dance
A song about a regretful father, who is looking back at so many of the major moments in his daughter’s life that he missed. Tim delivers the song with sadness in his voice, probably because he is so involved in his daughters’ lives that he cannot believe anyone would live a life like that. It is not clear if the father really gets a second chance in the song or not, be he clearly knows he does not deserve it.
Simply put, a clear radio hit. Tim sings a song about his alcohol-induced reaction to a break-up that just occurred. The man has no idea where he is, but he knows it is somewhere near Mexico, or Oklahoma. With catchy lyrics such as “the sun still shines on a fool like me” and “I’m sitting here stoned at Tortilla Jones, where nobody knows my name and that’s okay by me”, the song has a playful tone about a man who is obviously attempting to justify the binge he just went on post break-up. Trumpets and even a hint of an accordion play in the background giving it a unique sound very different from the usual fiddle or steel guitar.
10. Number 37045
A song about an inmate who used to be the life of the party, but killed someone while he drove drunk. He now lives his life wondering what is happening outside his jail cell. The lyrics paint a picture of how solemn his life has become because he is so regretful of what he did. All he has to hang on to are the sounds of birds or a church bell in the distance. It is one of the few songs that show an inmate in a sympathetic and apologitic state.
11. It’s Your World
This is a song that will get every woman who listens to it excited. It is a man’s honest acceptance that he is willing to do everything and anything to keep his woman and “it’s your world baby, I’m just living in it”. Another fast tempo, fun song that has commercial appeal to it.
12. Tinted Windows
Another song about past memories. This one remembers a girl he had when he had his first car, which, you guessed it, had tinted windows. Tim’s band, the Dancehall Doctors, get to shine on this one as there are various spots of solo instrumentals and collaborative dramatic jam outs. Not much to it lyrically, but the song is pleasing to the ear as the Band really nails it. The piano stands out during the verses and the guitars scream on the chorus.
13. Highway Don’t Care (featuring Taylor Swift and Keith Urban)
This song will go Platinum, mark my words. Not only does it have lyrics from Tim and teen-sensation Taylor Swift, but it includes some electric guitar solos from the highly talented Keith Urban. I was afraid this song would be too poppy, but I was pleasantly surprised when I heard it. It is perfectly executed as Tim and Taylor engage each other in a manor where one (Tim) describes a woman’s actions while she is driving and the other (Taylor) sings what that woman hears on the radio. It starts slow and picks up continuously throughout this masterpiece. Urban’s skills, which are arguably the best in country music, get a few solos where he makes his presence very well known. In the end, its a song about how a woman, who just went through a break-up, takes to the Highway to try to drive away her tears, but knows it won’t help, only love will. The back and forth interplay of Tim and Taylor really makes what this song what it is. Instead of the standard single verse feature that most songs stick to, the three stars are interacting at the same time. The result is excellence.
14. Let Me Love It Out of You
A bluesy love song where the man is pleading with his woman to stop fighting and just let him love her. A simple guitar and piano play alongside while Tim puts forth a very convincing delivery of reasons why they should stop fighting. The song is included on the deluxe version of the album, but is just as good as any of the other tracks. The electric guitar really speaks as an additional voice as it screams and begs with a sense of sexyness.
15. Truck Yeah (Live)
This is just an added bonus thrown in for the fans who like this song. Enjoy this live performance video of the song: