Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz
Garth Brooks is back, sort of with this four-release set (the previously released "Sevens," "Scarecrow" "Double Live" with a new cover, but no new music and 11 previously unreleased songs, "The Lost Sessions."
Brooks, who "retired" to his outpost in Oklahoma, starts off strongly on "The Sessions" with the lighter "Fishin' in the Dark," the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band hit, "That Girl Is a Cowboy" and his fun-sounding hit and ode to late friend Chris LeDoux "Good Ride Cowboy." For all the criticism lodged against Brooks over the years - and some of it justified - he also tends to keep it far more country than many of today's stars on songs like "Please Operator (Could You Trace This Call)." "I'd Rather Have Nothing" typifies the easy-going style heard throughout with instrumentation that remains firmly country without the rock sound present in some of Brooks' other work. A few songs - "For a Minute There" and "American Dream" - never rise above middlin'.
But big kudos for closing with the acoustic-based peace song, "Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream." While the 11 songs never made it on previous albums, listeners should not be left with the perception that these songs are of inferior quality. In fact, it's good to hear something" new" out of the Brooks camp.
The box set also includes a 64-page book of photos and lyrics and an "All Access" DVD with interviews, videos, concert performances and a photo gallery, but the main interest here are the 11 new songs, making you wonder if Brooks is back for good.