Trace Adkins 'Proud to Be Here' Humphead/Showdog

A big man with a big voice who's well capable of singing country (and being an apprentice - he was a recent contestant on the US Donald Trump Apprentice show). He's not a writer per se but a singer of songs and on this album the songs are full of rock drums and guitar and swirling keyboards that update a southern rock template and thrust. There are a lot of mid-tempo songs that touch on life from Million Dollar View (his lady) to the song about a father and daughter relationship in Just Fishin'. It's A Woman Thing is a discussion of foibles of the opposite sex as stated by the opposite sex. All these song have a sound that mixes several strands together, a little southern rock, a little soul, a little country so your ears perk up when you hit track 9 and Poor Folks and you hear the twang and the steel and the words fit the music and Adkins voice is warm and real and you again wonder why he did make a whole album like this, though in fact you know that someone is making the decision that that wouldn't go down as well as this crossover blend. Always Gonna Be That Way is a song about working men and again all the better for losing the "big" sound. The drums are further back and the music more understated, the organ this time is more subtle and the steel more noticeable. In truth these last two songs are just more country. The deluxe edition has four additional tracks Damn You Bubba and More Of Us back to the sound of the earlier tracks. If I Was A Woman which features Blake Shelton, is a bluesy duet that contemplates the songs title with lots of asides and the conclusion that "If I was a woman I'd love a man like me". The closing song Semper Fi is a military themed song with a more restrained an effective vocal. Adkins fans will lap this up and if he did a few more of those straight country songs so might I. 

Trace Adkins Cowboy's Back In Town Show Dog/Humphead

Moving from Capitol to Show Dog has not changed Adkins music much other than to re-energise the singer and make the songs that little bit more raucous and good ol' boy. With titles like Hold My Beer, Whoop A Man's Ass, Ala-Freakin-Bama and the title track you can see why he is signed now to Toby Keith's label. Adkins can still get in touch with his more sensitive side with slow ballads like Still Love You, a song laced with sweetness and strings. Break Her Fall, is another slow song of regret of looking back and movin' on. But those songs are exception in this boy's world of beer, brown cows, Chevrolet back seats and big guitars. Again, in the main, this is another part of the current Nashville formula, rather than edging towards the pop spectrum this album rides off into a southern rock sunset. Adkins fans will find much to admire and those who aspire towards the faux outlaw allegories will also enjoy its sense of bravado. Adkins has a big baritone voice that is well at home on his new label and it's overall ethos.