The title to John Rich's album can be read a few ways. The 'country truth' may refer to the album's traditional instrumentation. No question, this is a country music album. More likely, though, Rich's intention is to give us his thoughts about contemporary political and social truths – from a decidedly conservative perspective. Unless you run in conservative circles like Rich, some of his ideas may surprise you. Most artists – even the country ones – don't share (or at least don't express) these pointedly political/social views. However, if you watch the Fox news channel and also prefer your country music on the more traditional side of the spectrum, this album may contain the ring of truth for you.
Rich opens on its sour-ist note, though, with "Progress." On it, Rich takes a shot at progressives with the stinky suggestion, "Stick your progress where the sun don't shine." This sort of juvenile rhetoric is just plain dumb, rather than constructive. Even the recording's sweet fiddle part can't save it. Better, though, is "I'm Offended," which has a little fun with our culture's tendency to get offended by someone/something all too quickly these days. With more nice fiddle work and honky tonk piano, Rich has a little fun with our many times overly offended behavior.
Ironically, Rich includes a song with the title "Shut up About Politics," even though he hypocritically sings about politics all throughout this album. He also reveals his spiritual side with a cry out to The Almighty on "Earth to God," which – while with the best of intentions -- just comes off as an awkward hymn.
Rich is more effective when penning more personal songs. The acoustic guitar-driven ode to his son on "My Son" is simply beautiful and effective. Sure, Rich probably thought he had to get some political frustrations off his chest. However, this touching song is ultimately a far better application of his songwriting talents.
Rich closes with the project's funniest song. "Santa's Got a Dirty Job" appropriately features Mike Rowe (famous for his Dirty Jobs program). This track also features the fine singing of The Oak Ridge Boys. Yes, it's a tad early for Christmas music, but this one is well worth opening long before the holiday.
Stridently political music – from both the right and left – is rarely truly entertaining, and this holds true for Rich's latest project. Now that he's put this one out, though, perhaps he'll go back to creating much more inclusive music next time.