My Kind of Country

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

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Album Review: Toby Keith – ‘Boomtown’

41SMJD8V6ALReleased in 1994, Boomtown was Toby Keith’s second album, and probably my favorite album of his early years. It was Toby’s first album to reach the top ten of Billboard’s Country Album chart and the top fifty of Billboard’s All-Genres Album chart

“Who’s That Man” was the first single released from the album and the second #1 single for Keith reaching the top on both the US and Canadian country charts. The song is a serious ballad about the life the narrator left behind when he and his wife separated. The topic has been tackled many times both in literature and music but rarely as succinctly

They paved the road through the neighborhood
I guess the county finally fixed good
It was gettin’ rough
Someone finally complained enough

Fight the tears back with a smile
Stop and look for a little while
Oh it’s plain to see
The only thing missing is me

That’s my house & that’s my car
That’s my dog in my back yard
There’s the window to the room
Where she lays her pretty head
I planted that tree out by the fence
Not long after we moved in
That’s my kids and that’s my wife
Whose that man, runnin’ my life

“Big Ol’ Truck” was the fourth and least successful single from the album, reaching #15. The song is a generic mid-tempo rocker. It is not bad but not great either.

“Victoria’s Secret” is a gentle ballad that is far more than the clever word play title would suggest. I think this would have made a good single: 

Her husband’s always working and he’s never home
When he’s there with her he’s still gone
And she can’t stand living and loving alone
Well she’s got her children to raise, that’s why she can’t let it show
I’m the only one who knows Victoria’s secret

The first three songs were Toby Keith compositions. “No Honor Among Thieves” is outside material from the pens of Nathan Crow and David Wills. Up-tempo and bluesy, the song makes a nice album track.

“Upstairs, Downtowns” was the second single of the album, reaching #10. The song is the story of a young girl leaving home to discover the world. The song was a Toby Keith-Carl Goff Jr. collaboration as was the album’s third single, the wry “You Ain’t Much Fun (Since I Stopped Drinkin’)” . I feel that this was the first Toby Keith single in which Toby’s sense of humor truly manifested itself. I was somewhat stunned when this song didn’t make it to #1 (it reached #2). It is hard for me to pick an all-time favorite Toby Keith song, but this one, with its infectious chorus and shuffle beat, is a strong contender:

I used to come home late and not a minute too soon
Barking like a dog, howling at the moon
You’d be mad as an ol’ wet hen, up all night wonderin’ where I been
I’d fall down and say come help me honey
You laughed out loud, I guess you thought it was funny
I sobered up, and I got to thinkin’
Girl you ain’t much fun since I quit drinkin’

Now I’m paintin’ the house and I’m mendin’ the fence
I guess I gone out and lost all my good sense
Too much work is hard for your health
I could’ve died drinkin’, now I’m killing myself
And I’m feedin’ the dog, sackin’ the trash
It’s honey do this, honey do that
I sobered up, and I got to thinkin’
Girl you ain’t much fun since I quit drinkin’

“In Other Words” is a nice love ballad with no particular potential as a single. Written by Tony Haselden and Tim Mensy, the song is a nice jog-along ballad

Toby’s “Woman Behind the Man” is another nice slow ballad love song a man’s paean to his woman.
“Life Was a Play (The World a Stage)” was written by the trio of Johnny McCollum, Pal Rakes and Nelson Larkin. The song is a mid-tempo ballad that I think should have been a single for someone. To me it sounds like somthing tailor made for Brooks and Dunn, Toby does it well but I think it better suited for B&D or some such similar act.

For whatever reason the title track, “Boomtown” was not released as a single. The song has a some of Toby’s strongest lyrics as a composer. Perhaps the song hit a little too close to home for some people. In fact, it is still current and still relevant. Anyway I love the song.

The people came here from parts unknown
Sleepin’ in their cars ’cause they didn’t have homes
Thought this place was the promised land
If you could roughneck, we could use a good man
Come on boy let me show you around
You could make a lot of money here

Livin’ in a boomtown
We’ll some build bars and big hotels
Downshift drive and the people live well
High on the hog and wild on the range
Pocket full of cash instead of chump change
This place kicks when the sun goes down

See oil was the blood that flowed through the soul
To keep a man workin’ when it’s forty below
Relent to the devil in the cold cold ground
Trying to make a dollar here livin’ in a boomtown

Six short years the oil fields went
Rigs came down and the money got spent
And the wisemen saved for a rainy day
The fools packed up and moved away
The hotels closed and the bars shut down
And it got real quiet livin’ in a boomtown

Boomtown is definitely a county album with a sterling cast of musicians including Sonny Garrish on steel guitar. I regard this as the nascent Toby Keith showing more still signs of the artist he was to become.

Grade: A