Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz
Garth Brooks has unretired yet again. No surprise. And neither is there very much on his latest much to get surprised about. GB incorporates a few harder core country songs (the duet with George Jones "Beer Run") and the album's highlight, "Pushing Up Daisies" with fine singing plus a duet with Trisha Yearwood on Delbert McClinton's co-write of "Squeeze Me In" (let's hope the two do eventually record a duets album).
But on most of the songs, he goes middle of the road with mediocre fare like the first single "Wrapped Up in You" with its breezy melody and clunky lyrics and "The Storm," a fine story song about the end of a relationship, which takes a very long time before it has any musical muscle. Ditto for "Thicker Than Blood," another good story song, but generic sounding musically. As usual, Brooks uses his A-team of sessions folks, resulting in a well-played, album, which ultimately lacks much musical creativity. They are, by far, at their best when going for a honky tonk sound. On "Big Money," the music simply comes alive, especially Bruce Bouton's steel guitar. So does Brooks' singing. The playing on the bluegrass "Don't Cross the River," originally done by America, works well.
Brooks continues touching on the bases that have made him a superstar. If expecting GB to come out "retirement" with some new musical direction, forget it. This is a safe album not pushing any envelopes.