Tim McGraw starts and ends this album driving the open road, but he sounds uprooted all through, in search of a fresh game plan. After two decades at Curb Records, McGraw is releasing his first LP for Big Machine, home to Taylor Swift. Between her backup hooks on "Highway Don’t Care" and the Lil Wayne shout-out opening the clumsily punned muscle-country bid "Truck Yeah," McGraw seems determined to reel in young folks.
After years of the strain of legal battles to get out of his contract with Curb Records, Tim McGraw emerges, relaxed and refreshed with Two Lanes of Freedom, his debut recording for Big Machine, co-produced with longtime collaborator Byron Gallimore. McGraw may be celebrating his independence, but he still understands what he needs to get played on country radio as evidenced by the collision of neo-traditionalist melody and hard rock guitars on the pre-release single "Truck Yeah (there are two versions on this set; one is live). His finger popping meld of pop, Southern soul, and contemporary pop on "Southern Girl" uses Auto-Tune in the chorus, and it actually works (why this wasn't chosen as a single is a head scratcher).
Tim McgrawTwo Lanes Of Freedom(Big Machine)Rating: 3. 5 stars (out of 5) “If you think this life I love is a little too country, you’re right on the money,” Tim Mcgraw winks on the lead single of Two Lanes of Freedom, the country megastar’s first album with Big Machine. On an album fueled by its interplay of small stories and booming anthems, “Truck Yeah” is all macro-signification, the album’s way of playing with its country-ness.
Tim McGraw has been country music’s top dog since Garth Brooks jumped the shark with the Chris Gaines fiasco back in 1999. Since then, there’s been little question regarding who rules the roost, as McGraw has been on a history-making run of hits and has ushered in, perhaps more than any other single figure, country’s current era of broad-sweeping commercial success and rock-leaning radio domination. McGraw has consistently chosen songs that zero in on the Country Belt’s pleasure zone –country-enough tunes about the good old days, girls in their summer clothes, trying to be a better man, and getting down on the farm.