My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Album Review: Toby Keith – ‘Drinks After Work’

drinksAs so often with Toby Keith, his latest album is a real mixed bag. The worst comes at the beginning, and is almost enough to write the remainder of the record off unheard. the opening ‘Get In, Sit Down, Shut Up And Hold On’ is absolutely horrible,. It is the new single, and seems like a cynical attempt to regain his commercial mojo by aping the worst trends of modern radio, an autotuned, hip-hop influenced mess complete with token banjo.

The title track and previous single is a little better; it talks convincingly about responding to the mundanity of office work but is a bit limited melodically as is too often the case with Toby’s songs, and the invented word “conversate” jars. ‘Before We Knew They Were Good’ is a look back at youth and its careless dismissal of hidden potential. ‘‘Whole Lot More Than That’ isn’t very original, but is quite enjoyable. ‘Show Me What You’re Workin’ With’ is a catchy but cluttered and lyrically lightweight throwaway number.

Taking things up a notch, I definitely enjoyed ‘Little Miss Tear Stain’, a wry and catchy little song about encountering an ex who departed in anger:

You’re still hot, girl, as a firecracker
Cause you were smokin’ when you pulled out
I know that hell ain’t freezin’ over
But it might be chillin out by now

Sweet little Miss Tear Stain
Would you entertain
The thought of maybe having a talk?
Could we ever get back together,
Or is never still a good time to call?

‘I’ll Probably Be Out Fishin’’ is also good, the ironic plaint of a man with no luck at all. First he is jilted by his high school sweetheart in favour of his best friend while he is in the Navy, then he gets laid off from his civilian job just after he gets that big promotion. He concludes:

What’s a guy to say
Whart’s a guy to do
I could paint this old town red tonight
And still wake up with the blues
Good luck is bound to find me
When it comes around again
But I’ll probably be out fishin’
When my ship comes in

There is a western swing feel to ‘Last Living Cowboy’, a fond tribute to an 80 something, which is rather good, while ‘Hard Way to Make An Easy Living’ honors a hard working man.

The best song on the album, ‘The Other Side Of Him’ is an emotional ballad as the protagonist observes his ex with a new love, allowing Toby to exercise both his booming baritone and his too-rarely exercised interpretative gifts. The production is a bit heavier than necessary in places.

Three tracks are only on the deluxe version. Of these, the best and most believable is ‘Chuckie’s Gone’, which bids farewell to former bandmate, bass player Chuck Goff, who was killed in a car crash earlier this year. This is genuinely heartfelt. The mostly-spoken ‘Call A Marine’ feels a bit like pandering, but is well done (but not for an underage audience). The album closes with a forgettable cover of Jimmy Buffett’s ‘Margaritaville’ in duet with rocker Sammy Hagar; which bizarrely cuts off half way through the running time.

In summary, this is pretty typical Toby Keith. If you usually like his work, you’ll like this, but there’s little to attract the more casual fan.

Grade: B-

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