The title track of this terrific album is a good place to start: a boogie-rocker about love and stuff where Tim invites us to toast people who defy long odds and ask a girl to dance. Get Em Up is an Aldean-ish invitation for fans to ‘kick it all night’. Bar Band is another song about songs – Marshall Tucker and John Prine get namechecks, as do Spinal Tap with the line ‘up to eleven’ – but the mood is middle of the dirt road rather than hardcore bar band music. There’s a sweet set of closing harmonies which invite us to put our hands up for a second song in a row.
Be A Cowboy is one of four songs on the album written with the great David Lee Murphy and sounds like five Aldean songs rolled into one. It’s enormous and loud and muscular, and is a good counterpoint to the album’s softer songs. River Kids is an acoustic reminiscin’ ballad which paints Tim the teenager hanging out by the river, drinking beer and fishing and doing country stuff. Gone Looks Better (‘on you than it does on me’) is a lovesick ballad that sounds like all the other country ballads of its type, while Tim tries out a bluesy wail on Stronger Than You: ‘There’s rattlesnake venom runnin’ through my veins’ is a good line.
Don’t Wait Up On Me (‘Ruby and Rosalie’) has a snakeskin-booted Tim telling his lady that he’ll be on the road at dawn; it sounds like an old-school groupie song. The protagonist of the fun Cars On Blocks is fresh out of jail ‘way out where the buffalo roam’; over three chords Tim puts across a lot of character and paints a picture of a land of mobile homes and ‘redbone hounds’. Closing power ballad To An End has sprinkles of pedal steel and a lyric full of bowed heads, closed eyes and prayer ‘so I can look her in the eyes again’. It’s the best vocal on an album full of great takes.
This is a mature album with much to enjoy and has less bombast and more soul than Jason Aldean, who by now is a parody of himself. Maybe Broken Bow should allocate Aldean’s resources to Tim.