After leaving me disappointed with his last three albums, Tim McGraw has gotten back to the form that I love with Two Lanes Of Freedom. This album’s got a easy-listening, great-to-dance-to, carry-you-away sound to it. And Tim’s voice, on most of them, sounds as sweet as Tupelo honey as it coats itself over a fine instrumental track.
The standout of the album is a love song to Nashville’s music history in ‘Nashville Without You.’ The song weaves together the titles of some of Nashville’s classic tunes along with a more modern one thrown in for good measure. The line ‘it’d just be another river town’ sums up all there is to say about how music has helped to really put Nashville on the map. Hearing this tune makes me a little curious about how that all happened.
The title track, ‘Two Lanes of Freedom’, about hitting the road with your girlfriend, and ‘One of Those Nights’, which focuses on a single night of your youth that will create a lasting memory, are both great listens as well. And even though ‘Truck Yeah’ didn’t send me when it came out due to the rap style of the verses, I do find myself singing along more now with the chorus. Just goes to show ya how infectious as song can be if played enough.
‘Book of John’ and ‘Number 37405’ while both really great tunes stray too much into cliche territory in their last verses. [SPOILER ALERT] ‘John’, the story of reliving memories of a since-departed loved one, ends with the setting being a funeral. ‘37405’ reveals that our protagonist is doing time for killing someone in a drunk driving accident. Both songs would have been much more powerful if such details were left to the listener’s imagination.
‘Southern Girl’, also, comes close to being in league with the other easy listening tunes mentioned in my third paragraph, but the electronica vocal that serves as the songs chorus seems out of place with the rest of the song’s melody.
Finally, while adding Taylor Swift, who started her rise to fame with the song ‘Tim McGraw’, as a duet partner to ‘Highway Don’t Care’ may have sounded good in planning, it does not sound good in execution. This is mainly due to Swift’s own star power. When her part comes in ‘Don’t Care’, you find yourself thinking more about the kitschy value of her on the tune. It takes you completely out of the moment the song is trying to get across. And though Keith Urban is noted as being featured on the song as well, I’ve yet to find out just where on the song he is. Maybe playing the awesome guitar licks?
The CD booklet that comes the album does have some artistic value to it. There are two photos; the cover and first interior page, that have the yellow’s sun-faded quality to them, and another with Tim in the desert at a table. But for those who swoon over the current first man of country music’s, you will not be needing your smelling salts as you flip though these pages.