My Kind of Country

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

Album Review: Toby Keith – ‘Toby Keith’

toby keithToby Keith’s debut album in 1993 showcased him not only as an impressive vocalist with a big booming voice, but as a singer-songwriter. He wrote all but two of the songs, and with no recourse to co-writers.

‘Should’ve Been A Cowboy’, the first single, was an immediate, and enduring, success for Toby, speeding to the top of the charts, and becoming the most played song on country radio for the whole decade of the 1990s. Filled with visual imagery and nostalgia for the sanitized old movie and TV Western depictions of a cowboy’s life, it is pleasant listening but the polar opposite of the harsher reality offered in ‘Went For A Ride’, recorded by Radney Foster the previous year.

The contemporary styled ballad ‘He Ain’t Worth Missing’ reached #5, and is earnestly sung, although the keyboards now sound dated. ‘Under The Fall’ is on much the same theme (consoling a lovelorn woman), but is a less well written song.

The last two singles both peaked at #2. The catchy and rocking ‘A Little Less Talk And A Lot More Action’ was one of the two non Keith-penned tunes, although it heralds much of his later work. It was written by Keith Hinton and Jimmy Alan Stewart. Stewart also co-wrote (with Chuck Cannon) ‘Some Kinda Good Kinda Hold On Me’(written by Chuck Cannon and Jimmy Alan Stewart), which is up-tempo filler with an effective groove and an extended sax solo.

The final single, ‘Wish I Didn’t Know Now’, with its wounded take on deception and lost love, is my favourite of the singles. Also very good is the breakup ballad ‘Ain’t No Thang’, although I’m mildly irritated by the spelling choice.

‘Valentine’ is an overly forceful ballad which would work better with a subtler, more vulnerable approach (I’m tempted to say with anyone other than Toby Keith singing it). He shows, however, that he is capable of subtlety on ‘Mama Come Quick’, a nicely constructed tune which compares a childhood hurt to the pain of a broken relationship, and pays tribute to a mother’s loving consolation. Very nice.

The closing track, ‘Close But No Guitar’, is a wryly amusing story song which I enjoyed a great deal. The protagonist has been left behind by an old girlfriend who has gone on to make it big in Nashville. He ends up covering her hit songs for pennies in the same old bar they started out in together.

The album reflected the performance of the singles, and was certified platinum. It was a bright start to Toby Keith’s career and stands up reasonably well today

Grade: B+

One response to “Album Review: Toby Keith – ‘Toby Keith’

  1. luckyoldsun October 6, 2015 at 4:21 am

    I saw and heard Toby Keith sing “Should Have Been A Cowboy” and several other songs from this album at the World Trade Center.

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