What the heck are they thinking?
That was the general reaction of the music world when it was announced that Scott Borchetta had inked a deal with Steven Tyler to record a… Country album? I have to admit that I thought the idea was merely a marketing ploy – just to add to the curiosity that was bound to follow the project. I really didn’t put a lot of credence into the idea of the Aerosmith front man pulling anything off that I would consider remotely “Country.”
Then, I heard the first single, “Love Is Your Name,” and I thought ‘Well, they are actually trying on this.’ Then, one begins to hear of Tyler sightings in Music City almost on a daily basis. So, the idea that he was making a commitment to really make this album work began to receive a little more serious consideration in my mind.
Now, we have the album. I’ve got to tell you that I am more than just a little pleased with the result. Hell, let me say this. I am outright impressed with this disc. Tyler has made his time in Nashville work – and work well here. I will no doubt alienate some fans of current Country fans here, but that’s ok. It seems that the format has always wanted to try to be rock and roll-like with the music and actions, to try to copy that swagger in an attempt to be like “the man,” whoever that person is?
Well, Steven Tyler is… that man.
What makes this album work the most is the fact that he’s doing exactly the kind of music here that a lot of Nashville attempts to do on a daily basis. But, with his style, there’s an air of believability that makes it work – and work well.
But, it’s not all Rock and Roll swagger. Tyler can tone things down quite a bit and turn in some nice performances on the more traditional songs on this disc. “My Own Worst Enemy,” co-written with The Warren Brothers, kicks off the disc. It’s is a very understated performance filled with regret and pain about the decisions that one has made with a life. In essence, that makes it a perfect Country song. There’s a bit of a haunting element of this song, which the iconic legend handles with enough remorse of his own.
That same line of thinking applies to the wistful “It Ain’t Easy.” Co-written by Tyler (along with Cary Barlowe, Nathan Barlowe, and Hillary Lindsey), the song is about as dramatic of a moment as you will find on this album – or 90 percent of what’s coming out of Nashville these days, for that matter. It’s not just a lyrically potent moment, it just about touches on brilliance.
And then there are the moments of swagger. This is a Steven Tyler record, you know! “We’re All Somebody From Somewhere” sizzles with a sound akin to that of the Black Crowes, and “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly & Me” might be a little bit rock-tinged for sure, but if radio wanted to be fair, this should find a home on airwaves. It’s the same kind of track that artists here try to make every day – but Tyler is the prototype at it.
He tips the covers hat to Joplin on a blistering take on “Piece Of My Heart,” which is made even more special with backing from his back-up group, The Loving Mary Band (which contains one of the best female vocalists of the past two decades in Nashville in Rebecca Lynn Howard). Hopefully, the exposure she’s been getting on the road with him will lead to her getting another deal… but that’s another review for the future, hopefully!
At the end of the day, I think a lot of people are going to be very surprised with this disc. Tyler put in a lot of hard work and dedication in on this album, and the resulting factor is one of the top albums by a male vocalist this year so far from Nashville. Give this disc an honest listen. I have a feeling you’re going to like it as much as I do.
The album is available for purchase HERE.